Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso Arrieta
(Cuban Comet, Mr. White Sox)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 175 lb.
- Debut 1946
- American League Debut April 19, 1949
- Final Game October 5, 1980
- Born November 29, 1925 in Havana, Cuba
- Died March 1, 2015 in Chicago, IL USA
"Minoso was one of the best competitors I've ever seen. . . He'd run into walls and get on guys who weren't putting out. He was also one of the nicest guys I've ever known when the game was over. . . I had more respect for him than anyone I've ever met." - Jim Derrington in a 1991 interview appearing in the L.A. Times
Minnie Minoso was a seven-time All-Star outfielder, winning three Gold Gloves who played parts of 17 often highly productive years in the majors, hitting over .300 in eight seasons. As good as he was young - finishing 2nd in the 1951 AL Rookie of the Year race with a sizzling 326/.422/.500 line and league leads in both triples and steals - he actually had some of his best years after the age of 30. Between 30 and 34, he reeled off five straight .300 seasons, with three All-Star selections, three Gold Gloves, and MVP votes in each, although his accomplishments were sometimes overshadowed by the fact he made two token appearances in the majors in 1976 and 1980, long after his retirement, to become one of only two five-decade players. He was finally elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee as part of the 2022 class.
Minnie's book Just Call Me Minnie says that he was born in 1925 and began playing semipro ball in Cuba in 1941. He was in professional winter ball starting in 1944, and with the New York Cubans in the Negro National League from 1946 to 1948. He hit .309 in 1946 and .294 in 1947. Minoso was the starting third baseman in the East-West All-Star Game in both 1947 and 1948.
Following a cup of coffee with the Cleveland Indians Single A farm club as a 23-year-old at the end of 1948, Minoso spent two very solid seasons on their Triple A team before making it to the Bigs for good in 1951. Along the way, he had a short stint with the Indians in 1949, but was unable to crack the big league team's outfield which consisted of Dale Mitchell (in the middle of a four-year .316, .336, .317, .308 run), slugging Larry Doby (who'd broken the American League color barrier with the Indians in 1947 just three months after Jackie Robinson shattered the National League's, two hot years into a seven-straight skein of All-Star appearances), and journeyman Bob Kennedy (once a promising 18-year-old prospect with the 1939 Chicago White Sox, then playing his most productive years with the Tribe in his late 20s). In 1951, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox after only 8 games and homered in his first at bat for the team, launching a seven-year run during which he was one of the team's biggest stars. because the Chicago Cubs had not yet integrated, he was the first black major leaguer to play in Chicago.
After his terrific rookie season Minoso was in the majors for the rest of his big league career, but not for good, returning to the minors and then an extended stay in the Mexican League after 1964.
Minoso made his big league debut with the Indians in 1949. Following a short stint at the beginning of that year, he returned to the minors for the remainder of 1949 and all of 1950, making the Indians' roster again at the start of 1951. On April 30th, he was traded to Chicago as part of a three-team deal that also included the Philadelphia Athletics; others involved in the trade were Dave Philley and Gus Zernial, who went from Chicago to Philadelphia, Paul Lehner and Lou Brissie who went from Philly to Chicago and Cleveland, respectively, and Ray Murray and Sam Zoldak who made the trip from Cleveland to Philadelphia. He retired following the 1964 season at 38. A slashing hitter and versatile all-round player, he showed good extra base power, was a productive RBI man, led the AL in steals three times, and flashed a Gold Glove in the outfield.
Minoso was a polished ballplayer and dynamic hitter when he arrived in the majors as a starter in 1951. He had such a great year it appears in retrospect he was seriously jobbed out of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Minoso topped winner New York Yankees second baseman Gil McDougald in almost every measure: games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, steals, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, OPS+, total bases, and hit by pitch - often by large margins (such as hits by 50 (173 to 123), runs by 40 (112 to 72), triples by 10 (an AL-leading 14 to 4), steals by 17 (a league leading 31 to 14), and total bases by 69 (265 to 196). The only meaningful lead McDougald had was a small one in home runs (by 4, 14 to 10), yet he was given the award 13 votes to 11 over Minoso.
During his career Minoso was traded several times, the last three for solid talent: first for future 300-game winner Early Wynn, next in a package that included future Detroit Tigers standout Norm Cash, and last for .300 hitter and high OBP man Joe Cunningham.
In addition to leading the AL at times in hits, doubles, triples, steals, stolen bases, total bases, and sacrifice flies, he dominated two other categories during his playing days, one good, one not: he topped the junior circuit in hit by pitches 10 times (in a 12-year period), and led in caught stealing 6 times in an overlapping 9-year span. Along the way, he was in double digits in triples, topped 20 home runs, and drove in over 100 four times apiece. Eight times he topped .300 in batting average, peaking at .326 his rookie year and .320 in 1954.
As a player, the fiery Minoso was well respected, finishing fourth in the MVP voting four times. While his Gray Ink score of 189 is well above the average Hall of Fame score of 144, his black ink tallies of 88 and 35 fall measurably below their 100 and 50 baselines. Once eligible, he got as high as 21% of the BBWAA Hall of Fame vote; in 2007 he received 15% of the Veterans Committee vote, in the 2014 election he was at 50% in a year when there were several strong candidates and no one was elected. Minoso was part of the inaugural class of inductees in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2022, he finally gained election to Cooperstwon, being named on 14 of 16 ballots in the voting on candidates from the "Golden Days" Era (1950-1969).
Although none of the ten most similar players to Minoso (according to the similarity scores method) as of December 2014 are in the Hall of Fame, Minoso has a higher Adjusted OPS+ than any of them. Though his 130 is the same as Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, Carl Yastrzemski, and Dave Winfield, the most similar player career-wise according to the method is Carl Furillo.
Feats of Age
Although one of the premier players of his era, Minoso is best known today for a variety of age-defying feats staggered along an artificially prolonged but fan-delighting career. He and Nick Altrock (born 1876, last appearance as a 57 year-old in 1933) and Satchel Paige ( born 1906, last appeared in 1965 as a 59 year old, the oldest major league player ever) are the only three players to appear in a game in five different decades. Altrock played in a single game in 1924 to get his fifth, Minoso was activated as a publicity stunt both in 1976 and 1980 to equal the mark. He wanted to come to bat in 1990, but MLB would not allow it.
In 1971 a 45-year-old (or possibly 42) Minoso was managing in the Mexican League. Frustrated when his Torreon Cotton Dealers had lost 9 in a row, he put himself in the lineup and hit a two-out, two-run game-winning double in the 9th. After barely playing in 1970, Minoso became a regular again that year and hit .315/~.418/.426. He would play regularly the next two seasons, hitting .285/~.369/.431 in 1972 and .265/~.350/.396 in 1973 and stole 10 bases in 13 tries at the age of 48.
Minoso is the third-oldest player to hit safely in a major league game, during the 1976 season. He was 1 for 8 and his only hit came on September 12th. Hall of Famer Jim O'Rourke hit safely at age 54 on September 22, 1904, and Charley O'Leary singled at the age of 58 in 1934. At the time of the hit, Minnie was widely hailed as the oldest major leaguer to get a hit, based on an erroneous 1922 birthdate.
He is also the third-oldest player ever to come to bat in a major league game, at age 54 on October 5, 1980, when he pinch hit for Chet Lemon in the 7th inning. Minoso grounded out, third to first. The two older players who came to bat in a major league game were Charley O'Leary (58), and Satchel Paige (59). He faced Frank Tanana in both his 1976 and 1980 cameos.
Despite Minoso's claims in his own biography, his actual age remains in question. His long listed birth date of 1922 (which remained associated with him until the 21st century) makes him three years older than his since claimed date of 1925. It defies "baseball age" logic for a player to claim he is older rather than younger than he is. Only Minnie knew for sure... perhaps not even he knew. As a result, when he died from a torn pulmonary artery in 2015, obituaries said he was 92, although he was more likely 89.
- 9-time All-Star (1947/NNL, 1948/NNL, 1951-1954/AL, 1957/AL, 1959/AL & 1960/AL)
- 3-time Gold Glove Winner (1957/ML-LF, 1959/AL-LF & 1960/AL-LF)
- NNL Slugging Percentage Leader (1948)
- AL Hits Leader (1960)
- AL Total Bases Leader (1954)
- AL Doubles Leader (1957)
- 4-time League Triples Leader (1948/NNL, 1951/AL, 1954/AL & 1956/AL)
- 3-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (1951, 1952 & 1953)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1956 & 1958-1960)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1953, 1954, 1957 & 1960)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (1951, 1953, 1954 & 1956)
- Won one Negro World Series with the New York Cubans in 1947
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2022
- "Can Minoso Beat the Sophomore Jinx?", Ebony, Johnson Publishing, Chicago, IL, Volume 7, Number 8, June 1952, pp. 15-20.
- Allen Barra: "Minnie Minoso: The New Latin Dynasty", in Clearing the Bases: The Greatest Baseball Debates of the Last Century, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 2002, pp. 175-182. ISBN 978-0312265564
- Allen Barra: "Two Guys From Chicago; or Why Ron Santo and Minnie Minoso Are the Two Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame", in Brushbacks and Knockdowns: The Greatest Baseball Debates of Two Centuries, St. Martin's Press/T. Dunne Books, New York, NY, 2004, pp. 101-110. ISBN 978-0312322472 
- Peter C. Bjarkman: "Orestes Miñoso: The Cuban Comet", in A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, 2007, pp. 52-62. ISBN 978-0786428298
- Karen Branch: "Minnie Minoso Left Out: Minnie Wants to Bat, but Nobody Will Let Him", The Miami Herald, April 13, 1991, pp. 1E-.
- Michael Clair: "Miñoso's amazing seven-decade career: There's only one Minnie Miñoso", mlb.com, February 8, 2021. 
- Lew Freedman: "Minnie Minoso: November 29, 1922 -", in African American Pioneers of Baseball: A Biographical Encyclopedia, Greenwood Press, Westport, CN, 2007, pp. 209-222. ISBN 978-0313338519
- Lew Freedman: "Minnie Minoso", in Game of My Life: Chicago White Sox: Memorable Stories of White Sox Baseball, Sports Publishing, New York, NY, revised 2013, pp. 123-130. 978-1613213209
- Scot Gregor: "White Sox Legend Minnie Minoso Had 'A Tremendous Life'", Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, IL, March 6, 2015. 
- Brent Kelley: "Minnie Minoso", in The Case For: Those Overlooked by the Baseball Hall of Fame, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, 1992. ISBN 978-0899507156
- Scott Merkin: "'A real hero,' Miñoso elected to HOF '22 class: Former White Sox pitcher Kaat also voted in by Golden Days Era Committee", mlb.com, December 5, 2021. 
- Minnie Miñoso, with Fernando Fernández and Robert Kleinfelder: Extra Innings: My Life in Baseball, Regnery Gateway, Chicago, IL, 1983. ISBN 978-0895266255
- Minnie Miñoso, with Herb Fagen: Just Call Me Minnie: My Six Decades in Baseball, Sagamore Publishing, Champaign, IL, 1994. ISBN 978-0915611904
- Leigh Montville: "A Last Lick for Minnie: Would It Hurt to Give Minnie Minoso One More At Bat?", Sports Illustrated, Volume 74, Number 15, April 22, 1991. 
- John Owens: "Minnie Minoso Gets His Moment", Chicago Tribune, December 7, 2012. 
- Joe Posnanski: "Minnie Minoso Might Not Have the Stats, but He Should Be in Hall of Fame", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 1, 2007, pp. D5-.
- Phil Rogers: "Sox Legend Minnie Minoso Exudes Joy of Baseball", Chicago Tribune, April 10, 2011. 
- Phil Rogers: "Beloved Minnie Was a Chicago treasure: Mr. White Sox Was a Great Player On the Field and a Great Man Off of It", mlb.com, March 1, 2015. 
- Bryan Steverson: "Minnie Minoso: The Cuban Comet", in Amazing Baseball Heroes: Inspirational Negro League Stories, Tennessee Valley Publishing, Knoxville, TN, 2011, pp. 117-126. ISBN 978-1932604818
- Rick Swaine: "Minnie Minoso", in Black Stars Who Made Baseball Whole: The Jackie Robinson Generation in the Major Leagues, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, 2006, pp. 101-113. ISBN 978-0786423163
- Bob Vanderberg: Minnie and the Mick: The Go-Go White Sox Challenge the Fabled Yankee Dynasty, 1951 to 1964, Diamond Communications, South Bend, IN, 1996. ISBN 978-1888698022
- Bob Vorwald: "Minnie Minoso", in What It Means to Be a White Sox: The South Side's Greatest Players Talk About White Sox Baseball", Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2010. ISBN 978-1600782787
- Tim Wendel: "Minnie Minoso and His Footsteps", in John B. Wiseman, ed.: Joy in Mudville: Essays on Baseball and American Life, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, NC, 2010, pp. 150-156. ISBN 978-0786442287
- Matthew N. Wiemer: Pioneering Integration in America's Second City: Minnie Minoso, Race, and Baseball Integration, 1951-1952, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL, thesis, 2003.
- Minnie Minoso at the SABR Bio Project
- Article on Minoso's attempt to play in a 1990 game
- Obituary from USA Today