Minnie Minoso – Speed, Power and Grace
White Sox outfielder Minnie Minoso scores on a short pop fly hit by Nellie Fox. Kansas City Athletics catcher Haywood Sullivan tries to apply the tag, The White Sox won this first game of a doubleheader 5-3. (Sept 20, 1961) photo: UPI
Months after the Chicago White Sox acquired Orestes “Minnie” Minoso in a three team trade from the Cleveland Indians in 1951, White Sox manager Paul Richards said, “Technically the deal helped everyone.
Actually we got the best of it. I wouldn’t trade Minoso for anyone in the league.”
Minoso was a star in Cuba before coming over to the United States and he never forgot his Cuban roots.
Minoso was signed by Indians owner Bill Veeck after being alerted to his ability by Abe Saperstein, the Harlem Globetrotters impresario, who was always on the lookout for black baseball talent. Minoso had been with the Indians since 1949 but had only gotten into nine games in two years. By 1950 Veeck was out as Indians owner, forced to sell the team to fund his divorce. The new owners considered Minoso expendable. That decision possibly cost the Indians several pennants throughout the 1950’s.
In his rookie season in 1951 Minoso batted .326 and led the league in stolen bases with 31 and triples with 14. In his career Minoso batted over .300 in eight seasons and had one unusual statistic – he led the league in being hit by pitches ten times. Minoso ran the bases with abandon and fielded as gracefully as any player in baseball.
When he retired in 1964 Minnie Minoso’s career average was .298 and he had hit 186 home runs while driving in 1023 runs.
Bill Skowron, Minnie Minoso Nellie Fox and Mickey Mantle July 24 1957 photo: AP
Minoso died Sunday, March 1, 2015 at a gas station in Chicago after suffering a tear in his pulmonary artery, at the age of either 90 or 92. There had always been some doubt to the Cuban star’s actual age.