Minnie Minoso, the hugely popular All-Star outfielder from Cuba who became the major league’s first black player out of Latin America and a treasured figure in the history of the Chicago White Sox, died on Sunday in Chicago. His true age was never entirely clear, but by an account in his autobiography, he would have been 89 when he died.
His death was announced by the White Sox. The cause was a heart ailment, his son, Charlie Rice-Minoso, told The Chicago Tribune.
Minoso was often cited as the only modern major leaguer to play in five decades, the product of a stunt engineered by the White Sox’s showman-owner Bill Veeck, who brought him out of retirement for three games in 1976 and two at-bats in 1980.
But he was best remembered as one of the finest ballplayers of the 1950s and a seven-time All-Star who fell just short of the 2,000-hit milestone. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner playing left field and a fast man on the bases for the ball clubs known as the Go-Go Sox, and his verve endeared him to the fans at the White Sox’s original Comiskey Park and much of the baseball world beyond.
A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Minoso never got into a game at the White Sox’s second Comiskey Park, which opened in April 1991 and is now U.S. Cellular Field. But he did the next best thing.
“Before anybody played there, I went up there and ran against the wall in left field and ran around the bases and slid into home plate,” he told The Chicago Tribune in October 1991. “The guys said, ‘Minnie, what are you doing?’ I said I was the first black guy to play in the old stadium, and I want to be the first black guy to run against the wall and run around the bases in the new stadium. And that’s what I did.”
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