Minnie Miñoso was worthy of Cooperstown. So what took so lengthy? — •

In a ballgame early in his MLB profession, Minnie Miñoso homered off left-hander Hal Newhouser, a future Corridor of Famer. Batting a few innings later, Miñoso took one in every of Newhouser’s fastballs on his butt.

The pitch broke Miñoso’s sun shades in his again pocket.

“You n—–, you’re not presupposed to hit a homer,” Newhouser yelled.

For baseball circa 1950, Newhouser wasn’t alone in throwing balls that thumped males like Miñoso, the sport’s first Black Cuban. White pitchers focused him, simply as they’d focused Jackie Robinson when he crossed the colour line on April 15, 1947.

“What can I say?” Miñoso was quoted as saying of his dustup with Newhouser. “I’m Black.”

Had Miñoso not been, maybe his electrifying profession may need earned him a plaque within the Nationwide Baseball Corridor of Fame and Museum lengthy earlier than Sunday, when the 16-person Golden Days Period Committee met in Orlando, Florida, and voted him, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Gil Hodges into the Corridor.

When Miñoso took the sector April 19, 1949, with the Cleveland Indians — becoming a member of essentially the most built-in ballclub in baseball — he adopted the paths Robinson and Larry Doby blazed to the large leagues. All of them launched their careers within the Negro Leagues.

Many historians and baseball followers thought Robinson, Doby and Miñoso had careers worthy of Cooperstown, New York. Robinson (inducted 1962) and Doby (inducted 1998) obtained there years in the past, but it surely took Miñoso, an outfielder who spoke no English when he emigrated from Cuba in 1946, a long time to affix them.

“For sure, the difficulty of language harm Minnie,” mentioned Danny Torres, a author who hosts a podcast that salutes Roberto Clemente. “However I believe the colour of his pores and skin harm, too.”

In championing his induction, Torres confused the issues Miñoso did nicely, which included enjoying Gold Glove protection, utilizing his pace to jump-start rallies for the Indians and Chicago White Sox, and selling the sport exterior the enjoying area.

His contributions there earned him the nickname “Mr. White Sox.”

As an envoy for the sport, Miñoso was the one ballplayer from the Negro Leagues who rivaled Buck O’Neil, whom a unique panel — the Early Baseball Period Committee — elected Sunday to the Corridor together with Bud Fowler.

A fan needed an autograph, Miñoso signed; the staff wanted a ballplayer to drum up curiosity within the ballclub, it went straight to Miñoso, who was as seen a character as the game had ever seen.

In a 2014 PBS profile, Miñoso described himself as a “baseball lifer,” and he mentioned he was a ballplayer who by no means shunned his Blackness. He tried to make use of his colour to bridge the period of segregation and integration, and he succeeded — as a lot because the period would let him.

Throughout his profession within the majors, from the a long time he spent enjoying baseball after which selling it, Miñoso put collectively a résumé that was underappreciated. He produced numbers higher or equal to these of Yogi Berra, Invoice Mazeroski and Nellie Fox, his contemporaries. Miñoso didn’t be a part of them in Cooperstown till Sunday.

From left to proper: Chicago White Sox shortstop Chico Carrasquel of Venezuela, outfielder Minnie Miñoso and pitcher Luis Aloma, each from Cuba, are seen on June 19, 1951.

AP Picture

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, believes his Blackness was a cause why.

“The very fact Minnie was Afro-Cuban is mightily vital to why I felt he ought to have been within the Corridor of Fame,” mentioned Kendrick, who obtained to know Miñoso from his visits to the museum. “He did for Hispanic athletes precisely what Jackie had carried out for African People.”

Earlier than he died on March 1, 2015, Miñoso voiced his disappointment that he hadn’t gotten into the Corridor. He felt he had earned his place there alongside Robinson, Doby, Monte Irvin, Satchel Paige and all the opposite greats of the sport.

“C’mon, so I get just a little bit mad,” Miñoso mentioned within the PBS profile. “I used to be presupposed to be there.”

Now, he’s.

“I used to be overjoyed after I heard Minnie obtained in,” Kendrick mentioned. “However I used to be unhappy that he’s not right here to rejoice with us.”

Justice B. Hill, an Ohio State College alum, is a long-time sportswriter/sports activities editor who taught journalism on the E.W. Scripps College of Journalism at Ohio College till Might 2019. His work has appeared on MLB.com, SBNation.com, Ebony.com and BET.com.

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