The election of several Negro League legends into the Baseball Hall of Fame this past weekend, per ESPN. Buck O’Neil joins Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso, and three other legends in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Former Minnesota Twins teammates Tony Olivia, Jim Kaat, and Bud Fowler were all chosen by pair of veterans on the committees. However, both Olivia and Kaat are 83 years of age and the only amongst the living. The induction of the six newcomers will take play in July of 2022. The first-time candidates, David “Papi” Ortiz, Alex “ARod” Rodriguez join Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling on the ballot.
The new rules honoring Negro League contributions grant an opportunity for O’Neil, Minoso, and Fowler were to make the Hall of Fame. Last December, the statistics were shared with the Major League Baseball’s record books when MLB said it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history”.
Buck O’Neil’s contribution to the Negro League
O’Neil was a two-time All-Star first baseman in the Negro League. He was the first Black coach in the National or American league. O’Neil became an ambassador for the sport before he died in 2006 at the age of 94. O’Neil’s life-size statue in Cooperstown will continue his honor forever.
O’Neil’s body of work has unfortunately gone undetected for the casual fan. The release of the nine-part Ken Burns documentary “Baseball” made the casual fan understand better. The Negro League is rich in history and baseball knowledge. The number of legends that the MLB benefited off from the Negro League is astronomical and even more concerning the casual baseball fan tends to have no clue.
Who was Minnie Minoso?
Minoso was a two-time All-Star in the Negro Leagues before becoming the first Black player for the Chicago White Sox in 1951, according to ESPN. He was born in Havana, while with the White Sox and Indians he was a seven-time All-Star. He was better known as the “The Cuban Comet”.
Minnie Miñoso paved the way for Cuban-born players like José Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, Yoán Moncada and Luis Robert.
The Cuban connection is strong on the South Side of Chicago and it doesn't stop here. pic.twitter.com/1SOxZ075jb
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) August 21, 2020
Ironically, there was nothing mini about Minoso. He hit over .300 eight times with the Cleveland Indians and Sox. He led the American League in stolen bases three times and reached double digits home runs almost every season. Not to mention, he won three Gold Gloves playing left field.
The White Sox retired his jersey number in 1983. He later remained close to both the organization and its players before his passing in 2015.