The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will be considering several former Negro League players to be included for election to the Class of 2022. (The election will take place on December 5, 2021).
Seven Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues legends will be considered - Today we focus on - Minnie Miñoso. Thought of mainly for his Major League career, Miñoso played for 3 seasons with the Negro Leagues.
Minnie Miñoso played 17 seasons with the Indians, White Sox, Cardinals and Senators, earning nine AL/NL All-Star Game selections and three Gold Glove Awards as an outfielder. A native of Cuba, he blazed a trail for Latin American players in the big leagues starting in the 1950s.
This young Cuban third baseman broke in with a .309 average for the New York Cubans in 1946 and continued his hot hitting into the next season. He was the top hitter on the team with a torrid .336 average going into August, before cooling off and finishing at .294. Minoso's offensive production from his leadoff spot in the batting order aided the Cubans as they captured the Negro National League pennant and won World Series from the Negro American League's Cleveland Buckeyes. He was the starting third baseman in both the 1947 and 1948 East-West All Star games before entering the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1949.
Moved to the outfield and traded to the Chicago White Sox, the speedster promptly led the league in stolen bases his first three full major league seasons, 1951-1953. Minoso spent the most productive of his fifteen true major league seasons with the "Go-Go" White Sox of the 1950s. He consistently maintained a batting average of about .300, and finished his major-league career with a lifetime .298 batting average, 186 home runs, 205 stolen bases, and was hit by a pitch 189 times. During his major-league career he also played a season apiece with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Senators. A legitimate three decade player, Minoso was brought back to the White Sox for special pinch hitting appearances in 1976 and 1980 so he could qualify as a five decade player.
Minoso also had a short career in the minor leagues, beginning with a brief stint at Dayton (.525 batting average) between the New York Cubans and his first appearance in a Cleveland Indians' uniform. After that first "cup of coffee" in the big leagues, he was sent to San Diego in the Pacific Coast League, where he spent two seasons (1949 50) proving that he as ready for the major leagues. In addition to batting averages of .297 and .339, he had 30 stolen bases and 115 RBIs the latter year.
Fourteen years later he was back in the minor leagues, with Indianapolis of the International League, prior to beginning a second career, in the Mexican League. Although past his prime, he spent nine more seasons in Mexico, beginning with averages of .360 and .348 in his first two years with Jalisco. While in Mexico he played much of his time at first base to accommodate his aging legs. His last year was in 1973, when he hit .265 at age fifty.
He also enjoyed a good career in his native country, leaving a lifetime Cuban batting average of .289 for eight winter seasons. He began his baseball career in his homeland a year before he joined the New York Cubans, and was selected to the All Cubans team of 1945 46 at third base. He continued his Cuban career with averages of .294, .249, .285, .263, .321, .271, .327, and .295 for the years 1945-1954, except for the winter of 1949-1950, when he did not play winter ball.
Baseball Career Highlights:
Subjecting himself to segregation in the U.S., Minoso left Cuba to play for the New York Cubans in 1946. Upon joining the team, Minoso's batting average was .309 for the year. As leadoff batter, Minoso was a decisive factor in the New York Cubans' National League and World Series victories in 1947. Minoso, the starting third baseman, also played a critical role in the 1947 and 1948 East-West All Star games.
Minoso signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1949 but was soon traded to the Chicago White Sox. He broke the team's color barrier when he debuted May 1, 1951. Leading the league in stolen bases, Minoso's speed drove White Sox fans to chant "Go Go" as he ran the bases. Minoso was the most exciting player White Sox fans had seen in years. He could run, field, and be counted on to hit .300 almost every year. During his baseball career, Minoso played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Senators and the Mexican League. Although, Minoso's career spanned three decades, through the urging of White Sox owner Bill Veeck, Minoso returned to the White Sox in 1976 and briefly in 1980 giving him the status of the "four and five decade man." Minoso concluded his major league career with a lifetime .298 batting average, 186 home runs, 205 stolen bases and was hit by a pitch 189 times (a Major League record).
Awards, Honors, Titles, Championships, Schools, Colleges:
• Negro National League Pennant Champion
(New York Cubans) - 1947
• Negro Leagues World Series Champion
(New York Cubans) - 1947
• East-West All Star Games - 1947, 1948
• Led American League in Stolen Bases - 1951-1953
NLBM Legacy 2000 Players' Reunion Alumni Book, Kansas City Missouri: Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Inc., 2000.
James A. Riley, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1994.
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