White Sox honor legacy of Chicago baseball pioneer Minnie Minoso

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The White Sox honored a franchise legend on what would have been his 96th birthday.

Minnie Minoso is associated with the "Go-Go White Sox" of the 1950s.  He's the first Black Cuban to play in Major League Baseball, and he's the first Black player to play for the White Sox (Sam Hairston is the first Black American player signed by the White Sox. He made his Major League debut two months after Minoso in 1951).

Minoso was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1957 for pitcher Early Wynn and Outfielder Al Smith, who were instrumental in the White Sox drive for the American League pennant in 1959.  Minoso had two more tours of duty with the White Sox in the early 1960s.   He returned to the team's coaching staff in the 1970s.  He would have individual at-bats for the White Sox in 1976 and again in 1980.

After he retired from baseball, Minoso was a White Sox ambassador.  He was a fixture at fantasy camps, fan conventions, charitable events, and other White Sox gatherings.  His son, Charlie Rice-Minoso, said his father's love of life and people was not dimmed by his experiences as a player making his way through parts of the country where segregation was the law of the land.

"It's something that's often lost.  Then Dad's journey of being not being in his home country, not having command of the English language that others did, I think that is something that is oftentimes overlooked in his career and what he had to navigate during that time," Rice-Minoso told WBBM Newsradio.

White Sox honor legacy of  Chicago baseball pioneer Minnie Minoso
Minnie Minoso's widow Sharon Rice-Minoso and son Charlie Rice-Minoso say they are “cautiously optimistic” about the baseball legend's possible election to the Hall of Fame next week. Photo credit Rob Hart/ WBBM Newsradio

Minoso died in 2015.  He's eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the Golden Days Era ballot.  The upcoming Hall of Fame vote has led new generations of fans to discover Minoso's accomplishments as a player.

His widow, Sharon Rice-Minoso, said she appreciates the fact that people still remember Minnie.

"I feel honored that people do remember him and still feel positive towards what he left behind and his memory, his legacy.  It's heartwarming to hear some of the players and some of the fans talk about how much me meant to them and baseball," Rice-Minoso said.

The Golden Era Ballot selections will be announced on Sunday.  The Minosos said they are "cautiously optimistic" about Minnie's chances of getting into Baseball's Hall of Fame.