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Minnie Miñoso

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Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso Arrieta
(Cuban Comet)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 175 lb.

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Contents

[edit] Biographical Information

"Minoso was one of the best competitors I've ever seen. . . He'd run into walls and get on guys who weren't putting out. He was also one of the nicest guys I've ever known when the game was over. . . I had more respect for him than anyone I've ever met." - Jim Derrington in a 1991 interview appearing in the L.A. Times

Minnie Minoso was a seven-time All-Star Gold Glove outfielder who played 17 often highly productive years in the majors. As good as he was young - finishing #2 in the 19511 AL Rookie of the Year race with a sizzling 326/.422/.500 line and league leads in both triples and steals set the pace - he actually had some of his best years after the age of 30. Between 30 and 34 he reeled off five straight .300 BA seasons, with three All-Star selections, three Gold Gloves, and MVP votes in each.

[edit] Negro Leagues

Minnie's book Just Call Me Minnie says that he was born in 1925 and began playing semi-pro ball in Cuba in 1941. He was in professional winter ball there starting in 1944, and with the New York Cubans in the American Negro Leagues from 1945 to 1948. He hit .309 in 1946 and .294 in 1947. Minoso was the starting 3B in the East-West All-Star Game in both 1947 and 1948.

[edit] Minor Leagues

Following a cup of coffee with the Cleveland Indians Single A farm club as a 23 year-old at the end of 1948, Minoso spent two very solid seasons on their AAA team before making it to the Bigs for good in 1951. Along the way he had a short stint with the 1949 Indians, but was unable to crack the big league team's outfield of Dale Mitchell (in the middle of a four-year .316, .336, .317, .308 run), slugging Larry Doby (who'd broken the American League color barrier on the 1947 Indians just three months after Jackie Robinson shattered the NL's, two hot years into a seven straight skein of All-Star appearances), and journeyman Bob Kennedy (once a promising 18 year-old prospect with the 1939 White Sox then playing his most productive years with the Tribe in his late 20s) until 1951.

After his terrific rookie season Minoso was in the majors for the rest of his big league career - but not for good, returning to the minors and then an extended stay in the Mexican League after 1964.

[edit] Major Leagues

Minoso made his big leagues debut with the 1948 Cleveland Indians. Following a short stint that year he returned to the minors for all of 1949 and 1950, cracking the Indians' starting line-up for good in 1951. He retired following the 1964 season at 38. A slashing hitter and versatile all-round player, he showed good extra base power, was a productive RBI man, led the AL in steals three times, and flashed a Gold Glove in the outfield.

Minoso was a polished ballplayer and dynamic hitter when he arrived in the majors as a starter in 1951. He had such a great year it appears in retrospect he was seriously jobbed out of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Minoso topped winner New York Yankees 2nd baseman Gil McDougald in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, steals, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, OPS+, total bases, and hit by pitch - often by large margins (such as hits by 50 (173 to 123), runs by 40 (112 to 72), triples by 10 (an AL-leading 14 to 4), steals by 17 (a league leading 31 to 14), and total bases by 69 (265 to 196). The only meaningful lead McDougald had was a small one in home runs (by 4, 14 to 10), yet he was given the award 13 votes to 11 over Minoso.

During his career Minoso was traded several times, the last three for solid talent: first for future 300-game winner Early Wynn, next in a package that included future Detroit Tigers standout Norm Cash, and last for repeat .300 hitter and high OBP man Joe Cunningham.

In addition to leading the AL variously in hits, doubles, triples, steals, stolen bases, total bases, and sacrifice flies he dominated two other categories during his playing days, one good, one not: he topped the junior circuit in hit by pitches 10 times (in a 12 year period), and led it in caught stealing 6 times in an overlapping 9 year span. Along the way he was in double digits in triples, topped 20 home runs, and drove in over 100 four times apiece. Eight times he topped .300 in batting average, peaking at .326 his rookie year and .320 in 1954.

As a player the fiery Minoso was well respected, finishing fourth in MVP four times. While his Gray Ink score of 189 is well above the average Hall of Famer score of 144, his black ink tallies of 88 and 35 fall measurably below their 100 and 50 baselines. Once eligible, he got as high as 21% of the BBWAA Hall of Fame vote; in 2007 he received 15% of the Veterans Committee vote, in the 2014 election he fell to 50%.

Although none of the ten most similar players to Minoso (according to the similarity scores method) as of December 2014 are in the Hall of Fame, Minoso has a higher Adjusted OPS+ than any of them. Though his 130 is the same as Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, Carl Yastrzemski, and Dave Winfield, the most similar player career-wise according to the method is Carl Furillo.

Minoso was part of the inaugural class of inductees in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

[edit] Feats of Age

Although one of the premier players of his era, Minoso is best known today for a variety of age-defying feats staggered along an artificially prolonged but fan-delighting career. He and ancient Nick Altrock (born 1876, last appearance as a 47 year-old in 1924) are the only players to appear in a game in five different decades. Altrock played in a single game in 1924 to get his fifth, Minoso was activated as a publicity stunt both in 1976 and 1980 to equal the mark. He wanted to come to bat in 1990, but MLB didn't allow it.

In 1971 a 45 year-old (or possibly 42) Minoso was managing in the Mexican League. Frustrated when his Torreon Cotton Dealers had lost 9 in a row, he put himself in the lineup and hit a 2-out, 2-run game-winning double in the 9th. After barely playing in 1970, Minoso became a regular again that year and hit .315/~.418/.426. He would play regularly the next two seasons, hitting .285/~.369/.431 in 1972 and .265/~.350/.396 in 1973 and stole 10 bases in 13 tries at the age of 50.

Minoso is the third-oldest player to hit safely in a major league game, during the 1976 season. He was 1 for 8 the entire season and his only hit came on September 12th. Hall of Famer Jim O'Rourke hit safely at age 54 on September 22, 1904, and Charley O'Leary singled at the age of 58 in 1934.

He is also the third-oldest player ever to come to bat in a major league game, at age 54 on October 5, 1980, when he pinch hit for Chet Lemon in the 7th inning. Minoso grounded out third to first. The two older players who came to bat in a major league game were Charley O'Leary (58), and Satchel Paige (59). He faced Frank Tanana in both his 1976 and 1980 "cameo" appearances.

In spite of Minoso's claims in his own biography his actual age remains in question. His long listed birth date of 1922 (which remained associated with him until the 21st century) makes him three years older than his since claimed date of 1925. It defies "baseball age" logic for a player to claim he is older rather than younger than he is. Only Minnie knows for sure..., perhaps not even he.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 7-time AL All-Star (1951-1954, 1957, 1959 & 1960)
  • 3-time Gold Glove Winner (1957/ML-LF, 1959/AL-LF & 1960/AL-LF)
  • AL Hits Leader (1960)
  • AL Total Bases Leader (1954)
  • AL Doubles Leader (1957)
  • 3-time AL Triples Leader (1951, 1954 & 1956)
  • 3-time AL Stolen Bases Leader (1951, 1952 & 1953)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1956 & 1958-1960)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1953, 1954, 1957 & 1960)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (1951, 1953, 1954 & 1956)

[edit] Related Sites

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