The Cuban Comet

The Cuban Comet

March 2023

In November of 1925 Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta more famously known as Minnie Miñoso was born in a small town named Perico near Havana, Cuba. He grew up on a sugar cane plantation where his father worked. He played and managed baseball teams as a teenager on the island. In 1941 at sixteen years of age he moved to Havana to become a full-time baseball player. In 1945 he signed on to play for the legendary Cuban team the Marianao Tigres. By 1946 he would move to New York City and join the Negro League team the New York Cubans owned by Alex Pompez. In the 1947 Negro League World Series he led the Cubans to a championship win over the Cleveland Buckeyes. Miñoso had created a solid foundation as an above .300 average hitter and top caliber third baseman.

In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Robinson would make his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Before Robinson, the last black man to play for a Major League team was in 1884 by Ohio born Moses Fleetwood Walker. Moses played a total of 42 games for the Toledo Blue Stockings. As Robinson integrated the National League, Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians promoted Negro Leaguer Larry Doby to his team three months later making Doby the first African American to break the color barrier in the American League. Minnie Miñoso became the first Afro-Cuban to play in Major League Baseball when he made his debut for the Cleveland Indians on April 19, 1949.

Miñoso would only get 16 at bats for the Indians before being sent down to the minors where he spent the rest of the 1949 baseball season and the entire 1950 season in the Pacific League honing his skills. As a minor leaguer Miñoso’s talent became so undeniable he quickly earned his way back to the majors. He begun the 1951 season as an Indian but by the end of April of that year he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Before Miñoso’s debut, the White Sox did not have one black major leaguer. The trade made Miñoso the first black baseball player to play for the Chicago White Sox. That first year he posted a .324 batting average and was elected to the All-Star game as a reserve. Unfortunately, he was robbed of the Rookie of the Year award by another player whose statistics could not match Miñoso’s.

Minnie Miñoso became known as “The Cuban Comet” and as “Mr. White Sox.” He possessed a unique blend of plate discipline, power, and speed. He spent 1951 to 1957 with the “Go-Go” White Sox playing in the beloved Comiskey Park. He became a fan favorite and pioneer for dark skin Latinos in the majors. He led the Sox franchise for career home runs from 1956 till 1974. In 1958 he was traded back to the Cleveland Indians. He spent 1958 and 1959 with the Indians. He continued to hit and be one of the most consistent players on those Cleveland teams. In 1960 Bill Veeck, now owner of the Chicago White Sox (former owner of the Cleveland Indians), brought Miñoso back to south side Chicago. Miñoso collected another Gold Glove and had another season of batting over .300 for the White Sox.

In 1961 he was traded back to the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent two years in St. Louis where he struggled to put together a solid season for the Cardinals. Not only did he play all those seasons in the majors, but he also played Winter baseball in Cuba from 1949-1961 only missing one season. He started the 1963 season as a Washington Senators, but it proved to be another difficult season for Miñoso and was later released by the team. In 1964 he went back to Chicago appearing in only 30 games for his beloved White Sox. Although his career as a major leaguer was winding down Miñoso decided he wasn’t finished with the game. Starting in 1965 at the age of 41 Miñoso began playing professional baseball throughout Mexico. He played for teams such as the Jalisco Charros, Unión Laguna, Orizaba, Puerto México, and Torreón. He put up typical Miñoso numbers in Mexico becoming a bona fide star south of the border. In 1976 Miñoso rejoined his White Sox as a first and third base coach. That same year he also had eight official at bats including one hit for the White Sox. That would be his last hit in the majors. He appeared for the White Sox again for two more official at bats going hitless in 1980 at the age of 58.

Miñoso finished his long and distinguished career with a .299 batting average, 2110 hits, 195 home runs, 1093 RBI’s, 9 all-star appearances, 3 Gold Gloves, 3x American League stolen base leader, and lead the American League with hit by pitches a total of 10 seasons. He ended his career with a 53.8 WAR. That puts him in the top 170 players to ever play the game. Minnie Miñoso would eventually be inducted to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996, the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, and in 2021 six years after his death at the age of 90 he would be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He garnered 87.5% of the vote from the Golden Era Committee. Miñoso will forever be remembered for the passion and commitment to the game of baseball.

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