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With the redesignation of the Negro Leagues as a major league, Minnie Miñoso’s already worthy Hall of Fame case received a boost. Incorporating his work with the New York Cubans — with whom he hit .314/.470/.479 during three years that could have been spent in an integrated Major League Baseball — gave him 2,000 hits. It shouldn’t have taken the 147 hits from 1946 through 1948 to make people give him a more thorough look, but putting all of his stats on the same page made his résumé easier to comprehend, and hopefully to assess.
The risk is that if Miñoso didn’t gain entry through the Golden Era ballot this time around, then when?
Fortunately, we no longer have to chew on that sour question. Minnie Miñoso is a Hall of Famer, and after falling a painful four votes short the last time around, this time he cleared the bar with room to spare. He led the pack with 14 of 16 votes.
Miñoso’s inclusion wasn’t a shock — his exclusion would’ve been the stunner — but the committee still managed to surprise by giving the nod to three other candidates. Former White Sox Jim Kaat, as well as Gil Hodges and Tony Oliva, also earned election to the Hall of Fame by getting the required 12 votes.
Miñoso passed away in 2015, but the White Sox passed along a reaction from his son in a press release:
“This tremendous honor would have meant a great deal to my dad, and it means a great deal to us,” Miñoso’s son Charlie Rice-Miñoso said. “My dad lived the American Dream. He was able to open doors and break barriers all while doing what he loved, fulfilling his life-long dream of being a major league baseball player. He devoted his life to baseball, to all the fans, to the community and to Chicago, which he loved. He was so proud to be Black, to be a Cuban, to be an American and to be a professional baseball player for the Chicago White Sox. He also would have been so very proud to be a Hall of Famer.”
Dick Allen, the former Sox with the second-most pull among the South Side fan base, fell one vote short with 11. That’s discouraging on a personal level, and immensely frustrating given that he suffered the same fate the last time around. There’s some positive spin in that it’s better to come up one vote short when several others gain entry. The voters are limited to a maximum of four selections, and with a four-pack of Golden Era players meriting the honor this time around, that’s four more votes that could get Allen over the hump the next time. It’s understandable if Allen’s closest supporters don’t want to hear the words “next time.”
(The same could be said for Billy Pierce, but since he was in the group of players to receive three or fewer votes, it’s harder to know how much of his non-votes were simply votes for other players.)
Miñoso’s election righted one wrong, and the Early Baseball Era Committee corrected another by finally waving Buck O’Neil through. The heart and soul of the Negro Leagues had been painfully stiff-armed on multiple occasions, but after gaining 13 of 16 possible votes, Kansas City is celebrating.
Besides O’Neil, Buck Fowler, who is believed to be the first Black professional baseball player who established his legacy in the 19th century, also cleared the bar with 12 votes. John Donaldson, the subject of an outstanding story from James Fegan, received eight votes, which gives him the same amount of ground that Miñoso gained over the course of one ballot to another.
(Photo by The Rucker Archive/Icon Sportswire)