Former White Sox great Minoso dies
Minnie Minoso, the Cuban-born White Sox star who was Major League Baseball`s first black player in Chicago, has died, the team said Sunday.
The White Sox didn`t release details of Minoso`s death, but said he passed away on Saturday night in Chicago.
"Our organization and our city have suffered a heart-breaking loss today," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "We have lost our dear friend and a great man. Many tears are falling."
Minoso began his major league career with Cleveland in 1949 and became the first black player based in Chicago when the White Sox acquired him from the Indians in 1951.
In his first at-bat for the White Sox he homered against Yankees right-hander Vic Raschi.
President Barack Obama, who launched his political career and started his family in Chicago, said Minoso would be missed.
"For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be `Mr. White Sox,`" Obama said in a statement, noting that Minoso came up through the Negro Leagues and battled a language barrier as well as racism as he pursued his big league dream.
Minoso, whose full name was Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso, was nicknamed the "Cuban Comet" and blazed a trail for Latino players in the major leagues.
He went on to spend 12 of his 17 seasons with the White Sox.
A nine-time All-Star, Minoso played most of his career in the outfield and was a lifetime .298 hitter with 336 doubles, 83 triples, 186 homers and 1,023 runs batted in.
He won three Gold Glove awards, led the American League in triples and stolen bases three times and topped the AL in doubles once.
There was some confusion Minoso`s age, with the White Sox saying he was 90 when he died but Baseball-reference.com listing his age as 89.
Minoso retired in 1964, but returned to action in 1976 and picked up a hit in eight at-bats over three games with the White Sox.
He was hitless in two more plate appearances in 1980, which allowed him to play in five different decades, one of just two players to do so.
The White Sox retired his number 9 in 1983 and unveiled a sculpture of him in 2004. However, their campaign to get him into baseball`s Hall of Fame never yielded results.
"I never understood why Minnie wasn`t elected," Reinsdorf said in 2011. "He did everything. He could run, he could field, he could hit with power, he could bunt and steal bases. He was one of the most exciting players I have ever seen."
Obama said the fact that Minoso never got the coveted call to Cooperstown couldn`t dim his legacy.
"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," the president said.
For Minoso, just playing baseball was apparently enough.
"When I die, I want to be playing baseball," Minoso once said. "Truly. They don`t bury me without my uniform. If I die, I die happy because I was wearing number 9 for the White Sox."