Through the years, I have said and written a lot about Minnie Miñoso. I run a Twitter account (@Minoso9HOF) where I state his Hall of Fame case and share stats, quotes, pictures and memories with fellow Miñoso fans. On what would have been his 93rd birthday (or his 94th ... or his 96th), I’ll allow others to do most of the talking, though I’ll mix in a few fun facts from an incredible career.
“Sooner or later, whenever we talk about hitting, someone will ask me if there will ever be another .400 hitter in the major leagues. Of all the so-called ‘sluggers’ in the big time today, the only one I can think of who really qualifies in all respects is Minnie Miñoso.” — Ted Williams, “Who Will Hit .400” as told to Paul Gardner in Baseball Stars of 1955
Five players during the 1950s had at least 3,000 plate appearances with a .300+ batting average and .400+ on-base percentage: Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Ted Williams and Minnie Miñoso.
“When you think about Latinos in baseball, that begins with Minnie Miñoso, in terms of integration. Minnie Miñoso was literally the bridge, from the era of segregation into integration.” — Dr. Adrian Burgos Jr., professor, University of Illinois
Miñoso was the first black major leaguer in Chicago. He debuted with the White Sox in 1951 — more than two years before Ernie Banks became the first black player to appear in a game for the Cubs.
“Orestes Miñoso was the Jackie Robinson for all Latinos ... the first star who opened doors for all Latin American ballplayers. He was everybody’s hero. I wanted to be Miñoso. Clemente wanted to be Miñoso.” — Orlando Cepeda
Two rookies in American League history have had 100+ runs scored, 30+ stolen bases and a .400 on-base percentage: Shoeless Joe Jackson (1911) and Minnie Miñoso (1951).
“The two facets of his career, the Negro Leagues career and the major league career, they’re not supposed to be incorporated together. Really, you have to appreciate the whole scope of his career, because he lost anywhere from two to five seasons due to the color line. Minnie’s status as a pioneer, which is a big part of the extra credit that he deserves, and rightfully so.” — Jay Jaffe, Fangraphs
Miñoso was selected for the Negro League East-West game in 1947 and 1948, representing the New York Cubans, and was an MLB All-Star selection seven times: from 1951 to 1954 and in 1957, 1959 and 1960.
“When I was a kid growing up, I had two uncles who played baseball. One of them played professional baseball. Everybody in my family knew about the great feats of Minnie Miñoso. When they were talking about the great players in my household, I said, ‘Oh yeah, Minnie Miñoso.’ Even though I never saw him play, I saw him in the eyes of my family.” — Bernie Williams
Through 1964 (Miñoso’s final “full” regular season), Minnie Miñoso’s 50.7 wins above replacement rank first among all position players born outside of the United States in major league history.
“Minnie Miñoso belongs in (the Hall of Fame) on the merits as one of the AL’s five best players in the '50s, not to mention his being Jackie Robinson for the other half of this hemisphere.” — Christina Kahrl, ESPN
Miñoso’s 47.6 wins above replacement were the second most in the American League during the 1950s. Only Mickey Mantle (68.1) had more.
“I watched him practice. I shagged his fly balls. For me, that was great. I was there in the same clubhouse as him. The only thing that could be better is if his plaque was in the same room as mine in Cooperstown.” — Tony Pérez
Miñoso’s No. 9 was retired by the White Sox in 1983. A statue in his honor was unveiled in the outfield concourse at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2004.
“I rate him No. 1. I’ve been around baseball some 23 years, and if there’s one thing I know, that’s a ballplayer when I see one. He’s the fastest. That man’s fast as lightning. He’s a flat-footed hitter, so he can get anything. You have to keep the ball away from him.” — Satchel Paige
Two players during the 1950s hit .300 or better with at least 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases: Minnie Miñoso and Willie Mays.
“All told, when you add together Minnie Miñoso's major league (1,963), minor league (429), Cuban League (838), Mexican League (715) and Negro League hits (at least 128 documented), he winds up with a career total of 4,073 professional hits.” — Scott Simkus, author, Outsider Baseball
In 1957, the first year Gold Gloves were awarded — there was one set league-wide, rather than one set each for the American and National Leagues — the three outfield winners were Willie Mays, Al Kaline and Minnie Miñoso.
“I generally stay out of Hall of Fame campaigns, except for one or two players. Minnie Miñoso should be in the Hall of Fame, but he did not win an MVP award.” — Bill James
Miñoso received Hall of Fame votes in 1969. He collected a hit in a major league game in 1976 at age 50.
“Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie’s quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.” — President Barack Obama, statement on the passing of Miñoso
The Hall of Fame Golden Days (1950-69) Committee meets next in December 2020. Will Minnie Miñoso’s name be on the ballot? We will have to wait and see. Hopefully the Cuban Comet will at last enter Cooperstown. But how will they manage to fit all of his accomplishments on a single plaque?