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Minnie Minoso for the Hall of Fame

Apr 7, 2011, 12:26 PM EDT

Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso is throwing out the first pitch for today’s White Sox home opener. And there’s a great feature on him over at the Chicago Tribune today. There really is no one like him. No one who had a career with the arc of the one he had.  Just an astounding man and an astounding story.

And he was an astounding player. He had a .389 career OBP, .459 slugging percentage, had speed and was an excellent left fielder.  There weren’t a lot of players like him in his era — his prime was the station-to-station baseball of the mid-50s — so his skills were overlooked by many. His age is an open question, but most people believe that he was in his late 20s when he became a major league regular for the White Sox in 1951, delayed by the color barrier. Minoso was the first dark-skinned Latino to play post-Jackie Robinson. If he had a chance to play earlier, he’d have been pushing 3000 hits, one can assume. As it was, he continued his career in Mexico following the end of his MLB days, and his staying power down there made Julio Franco look like a quitter.

Minoso is up for election by the Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee this December. I’m not confident given that body’s track record, but it would be nice to see Minoso get what Ron Santo didn’t get: a chance to take his deserving place in the Hall of Fame while he’s still walking the Earth.

  1. Lukehart80 - Apr 7, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    Even without any adjustment for the time he missed due to discrimination, or any bonus points for his unique longevity, Minoso’s career is Hall of Fame worthy. Here’s to hoping the Veteran’s Committee gets it right.

  2. spudchukar - Apr 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    It makes my day knowing Minnie is still alive. Come on, Vet Com the Hall would be a better place with a Minnie Minoso plaque.

    • Old Gator - Apr 7, 2011 at 1:15 PM

      I agree, but don’t be shocked if they don’t. The Veteran’s Committee is usually a bunch of congenital decerebrates who are renowned for making one appalling decision after another.

      • ta192 - Apr 7, 2011 at 2:03 PM

        Every now and again they get one right, but I’m thinking this isn’t going to be one of those times.
        Saw a fair amount of Minoso with the Sox; one of my mother’s favorite ballplayers, and we lived in D.C.

  3. Detroit Michael - Apr 7, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    It’d be nice if a researcher could determine with certainty what his birthdate is. Without that, we can’t make a decent estimate of how much playing time that racial segregation cost Minoso and can’t really have a very rational Hall of Fame debate.

    Contrary to what the first poster wrote, he really does need some extra consideration to be Hall of Fame worthy.

    • mrfloydpink - Apr 7, 2011 at 4:44 PM

      Not sure I agree. He had 52.8 career WAR, which by itself puts him in pretty clear HOF territory (Enos Slaughter, Bill Dickey, Joe Medwick, Andre Dawson, Hank Greenberg, and Billy Williams are all in his neighborhood, give or take a couple WAR). If he needs extra credit, his historic impact should push him over.

      And even if we need to estimate, a precise year of birth is not really necessary. Just three more seasons at 4.0 WAR (below average for him) puts him at 65 WAR, which is nearly slam dunk HOF territory. That would put him on par with Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Ozzie Smith, Yogi Berra, Duke Snider, Tony Gwynn and, most significantly, Jackie Robinson.

      • Detroit Michael - Apr 8, 2011 at 8:24 AM

        Using WAR as calculated on baseball-reference.com, Minnie Minoso has 52.8 WAR. If we exclude 19th century players and active players and consider just batters, let’s look at those with 50-55 WAR, putting Minoso about in the middle of this group as far as career value. 10 guys are in the Hall of Fame and 11 guys are not in the Hall of Fame. That is about as grey as it can get.

        The guys with 50-55 WAR who are in the Hall I would guess have more peak seasons and/or more championship rings than Minoso had. It’s close, but he needs something extra to get him across the line. If the beginning of his career was significantly truncated because the bigots who ran baseball disapproved of his skin color, that’s enough to get him in, but you’ve got to know his birthdate to make that argument.

    • fquaye149 - Apr 7, 2011 at 8:45 PM

      I don’t know. I think he claimed that he is actually younger than he was originally thought to be. So for instance, although he claimed he entered the MLB at age 25, some people think he might have actually been 22. So, the controversy is really about whether he was 19 when he entered Negro Leagues ball or 22. I don’t know that it means he “lost fewer years” since talented players were very often brought up at age 18-20 in those days

  4. mgflolox - Apr 7, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Never got to see Minoso play, but from what I’ve heard, he was a tremendously exciting and fun player to watch. I would say his on-field performance is definitely HOF worthy. Plus he is near universally regarded as one of the genuine good guys and class acts to ever play the game.

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