Pioneer. All Star. Gold Glove.
And, after all this time, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Minnie Minoso’s trip from Cuba to Cooperstown, New York, becomes official Sunday as the Chicago White Sox legend joins the Hall of Fame.
“He was a Hall of Famer off the field and in the community, especially at home,” his son Charlie Rice-Miñoso said during a telephone interview from Cooperstown, New York, on Friday afternoon. “He just had the biggest heart. I know it would have meant a lot to him to be here in Cooperstown and to be on that stage.
“He spoke a universal language off the field and one on one because he was such a genuine individual. He was a very passionate Cuban. It means so much that his contributions will always be remembered.”
Nicknamed the “Cuban Comet,” Miñoso spent parts of 12 seasons with the Red Sox and was the team’s first black player in 1951. He quickly emerged as one of the game’s first Afro-Latino stars.
Minoso was a nine-time All-Star and won three Gold Glove Awards as an outfielder over 17 seasons with Cleveland, White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Senators. Before that, he made the All-Star roster in two of his three seasons in the Negro Leagues with the New York Cubans and was part of a championship team in 1947.
Miñoso was one of the four players chosen through the Golden Days Era committee on December 5joining Jim Kaat, who also spent time with the Sox, Gil Hodges and Tony Oliva.
The candidates needed at least 75% of the votes of the 16-member committees, or 12 votes, to win the election. Minoso received 14.
Buck O’Neil, who was the first black coach in American League or National League history with the Cubs, was chosen through the Early Baseball Era committee along with Bud Fowler.
Boston Red Sox great David Ortiz was elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America in January.
Minne’s wife, Sharon Rice-Miñoso, will give her speech at Sunday’s ceremony. She has been allotted 10 minutes.
“I get there at 8:58,” he said recently while meeting reporters in the Guaranteed Rate Field press box before a Sox game, “but that doesn’t count the crying or anything else.
“He was so humble. At home, he would have been excited, overwhelmed, like ‘I don’t think so’. But he took it all in stride. I think during the speech is where he would have gotten excited. I imagine him sometimes on stage and saying, ‘I should be here. This should have been him. ”
The family also has Minnie’s eldest son, Orestes Arrieta Minoso Jr., in their minds. He died of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, on March 15. The two were teammates in the 1970s when Minnie was a player and coach in the Mexican National Baseball League.
Charlie Rice-Miñoso noted that among his father’s honors is a place in the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame.
Minnie Minoso career statistics they include a .299 average, 2,113 hits, 195 home runs, 1,089 RBIs, and 216 stolen bases in 1,948 games. He also mentored several players, including former White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramírez, who was born in Pinar del Río, Cuba.
“I am very happy that he is receiving this honor,” Ramírez said through an interpreter during a video conference on July 15. “I would have preferred this to have happened when he was alive. It would have been much better. But it didn’t happen. I know right now, he’s probably happy just to see this.
“Since I met him in 2007, my first year when I came to the US, I met him and (pitcher José) Contreras, we started talking about his time in Cuba and when he moved here all the things he did . Every day he gave me advice about everything. It was every day. And it was something I’m happy about, very proud of, just getting advice from him.”
Sox manager Tony La Russa, who was on the bench during Minoso’s brief return in 1980, said, “I never (saw him) have a bad day.”
Sharon Rice-Miñoso referenced “Minnie-isms.”
“I had a lot of nice things to say, like ‘Thank you, friend’ and ‘From the bottom of my heart,’” he said. “Minnie said that all the time in her speech. So when I say that, I can hear him and his tone, which is nice. It makes me feel closer to him.”
Charlie Rice-Miñoso congratulated his mother and said she is doing a “great job” before the ceremony.
“I have every confidence in her,” he said. “But at the same time it’s very bittersweet for us to be here without my dad and without our brother. I’m excited that my sisters are here and my nieces and nephews.
“There will be a lot of laughter, a lot of crying, many moments of pause. As it has already been. Even if Dad was here, that’s how it would have been too.”