Orestes “Minnie” Minoso was found dead in his car in his long-time home of Chicago, Illinois, after suffering a tear in his pulmonary artery caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). His exact age was unknown, but he was believed to be between the ages of 89 and 92.
“The Cuban Comet” became the first black Cuban to suit up in the Major Leagues and the first black player in the long history of the Chicago White Sox. He moved to the United States in 1945 and began his pro career when he was signed by the Cleveland Indians late in the 1948 season. He debuted with the club briefly in nine games in 1949. He spent all of 1950 in the minors for the Indians and had played in eight games for the parent club in the 1951 season when he was sent by Frank Lane to Chicago as part of a seven-player, three-team trade that included the Philadelphia Athletics.
Minoso’s star shined brightest in Chicago, where he earned the nickname “Mr. White Sox”. He was a regular in their lineup over the next seven years, finishing second in the 1951 Rookie of the Year voting and making five All-Star teams in 1951, 1952-54, and 1957. He was traded back to Cleveland and spent the 1958 and 1959 seasons there, named an All-Star again in 1959 before he was traded back to Chicago for the 1960 season. He remained with the Sox through the 1961 season, then was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for the 1962 season and purchased by the Washington Senators for the 1963 campaign. He returned to Chicago in 1964 for his final 30 big league games…until returning at the age of 50 in 1976 for three games with the club. He became just the second player to appear in MLB games over five different decades (joining Nick Altrock) when he suited up at the age of 54 in 1980, making two pinch-hit appearances for the Sox.
He remained on the Hall of Fame ballot for the full 15 years (1969 and then 1986-1999), receiving no more than 21.1% of the votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. He finished his big league career with a .298/.389/.459 slash over 17 seasons with nine All-Star nods and three Gold Gloves. His number nine was retired by the White Sox in 1983 and he later was immortalized with one of many statues of Sox greats up at their home ball park on the southside of Chicago.
Also on this date in Tribe history:
1919 – After a month and a half of speculation and rumor, the Indians make what would become a steal of a deal, robbing Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics of three contributors to the Indians’ 1920 Cleveland championship team (third baseman Larry Gardner, outfielder Charlie Jamieson, and pitcher Elmer Myers) for outfielder Bobby “Braggo” Roth.