White Sox legend Minnie Miñoso made the ultimate home run – a forever home in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, July 23.
Known to many as the “Latino Jackie Robinson,” Miñoso played 12 of his 20 seasons in the majors right here in Chicago. For generations of White Sox fans, he was a favorite for his outstanding performance on the field and his gregarious spirit off of it.
At the induction ceremony, the late outfielder’s widow Sharon Rice-Miñoso said, “Through it all Minnie was never bitter, despite the many injustices and hardships he faced. Today’s honor bestowed upon Minnie is most appropriate, not only as a Hall of Fame player, but many was always a gentleman and Hall of Fame person off the field and in the community.”
Miñoso’s son, Charlie Rice-Miñoso, was in the audience along with throngs of family and friends.
“I loved seeing the huge display of Black and Latino representation in Cooperstown. I felt so proud of the job my mother did delivering that speech on dad’s behalf, but she really was right in saying that that the whole weekend was very bittersweet,” he said.
Sadly, not only had Miñoso himself not been able to receive this honor in his lifetime, nor had his eldest son, Orestes Arrieta Miñoso Jr., who died in March 2022.
“They played side by side together, father and son in the Mexican professional leagues and he was the only person who would have enjoyed the festivities more than dad,” Rice-Miñoso said. “The two of them were thick as thieves, and I’d like to think that they were with us in Cooperstown together. But again, the only thing that would have made it better is if they were both there themselves … I would have loved to have seen that, but still we find comfort knowing that is his legacy, his contributions will live on.”
One of Miñoso’s staunchest advocates, baseball historian and University of Illinois professor Adrian Burgos Jr., was also in attendance at the ceremony.
“It was actually special for me because I got to see Sharon, Charlie, Cecilia, Marilyn, their family members. I was sitting a couple rows behind them to see their joy,” Burgos said. “This is really what Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are about. It’s about their friends and family. It’s sad that Minnie, who loved his fans, loved his family, was not there for this, but but the outpouring of love for Minnie … that made it extra special.”
Burgos said Miñoso’s induction as well as other Black players like Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil are a step in the right direction for the Hall of Fame to correct the historical record.
“It is such a legacy, moving from the Negro Leagues into Major League Baseball, that he inspired so many. And I think finally Cooperstown and other people around baseball are getting a sense of what Minnie meant to Luis Tiant and Orlando Cepeda and Tony Oliva — they all looked up to Minnie because he was, and this is not hyperbole, he was our Jackie Robinson,” Burgos said. “He did it with style, grace, enthusiasm and excellence on the field and that he made himself such a part of Chicago, the South Side community, of the Latino community, of the African American community, of the Chicago community was why we still want to remember and celebrate who and what he did.”
Rice-Miñoso, who will be throwing out the first pitch on July 30 at Guaranteed Rate Field in a ceremony honoring his father, said the experience of the Hall of Fame weekend brought home the importance of recognizing pioneers within their lifetimes.
“There was a running joke with Tony Oliva that there was a song written about dad in Cuba called ‘Miñoso al Bate’ and in English, it basically says that any time Miñoso would be at bat that the ball would dance the cha-cha,” Rice-Miñoso said with a laugh. “So to see Tony Oliva mentioning that in his own acceptance speech, and also to see him all weekend, every time he’d see myself or my mom and my sisters, that’s what he would say, and then he’d do his own little cha-cha about dad because he just loved him that much.”
“I just wish that people were here to say and share this love with dad in person,” he continued. “But I do hope moving forward that we’re able to honor and recognize other pioneers and hidden figures in baseball … that they can receive their laurels while they’re still with us and while they’re still around to enjoy them.”