That's an outrage.
I don't generally follow who's in the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y. The more fascinating reading is who didn't make it. And this morning, thanks to a fine column by Phil Rogers in the Tribune, I discovered that the beloved Chicago White Sox icon Minnie Minoso is not in the Hall. I couldn't believe it.
No one should have to explain to Chicagoans or true baseball fans anywhere who Orestes "Minnie" Minoso is. Here is a summary of his career:
In his Major League career, Miñoso hit for a .298 batting average, with 186 home runs, 1023 RBI, 1136 runs, 1963 hits, 336 doubles, 83 triples, 205 stolen bases, 814 walks and 192 hit by pitch. His career ended with a .389 on base percentage and a .459 slugging average, combined for a solid .848 OPS. He was a 9-time All-Star. For his excellence in left field, he received the Gold Glove Award three times. He led his league in triples and stolen bases three times each. He was also the league leader in being hit by pitches an amazing ten times; Miñoso is 9th all-time in the category.
In 1951, he also was Chicago's first African-American Major League baseball player, yes, putting on a Sox uniform two years before Ernie Banks and Gene Baker did for the Cubs. I became a big Minoso fan after my brother Bill and I, both North Siders at the time, switched our baseball allegiance from the pathetic Cubs to the exciting and winning Sox.
And after all those years, there are reasons that he became a fan favorite. At the plate, in the field and on the base paths, he could do it all. In or out of uniform, he was a gregarious guy, just happy to be playing ball. And still happy to have been so appreciated by everyone, that is except for the selector bozos.
i've never tried to figure out the arcane selection procedures of the Hall of Fame, partly because they get it wrong so often. Witness the battle that fans had to put up for another long, Hall-ignored White Sox legend, Nellie Fox.
Right, whoever is doing the selecting, doesn't want to dilute the exclusiveness of the "real" greats in the Hall, so they supposedly have to be "extra cautious." Minoso deserves no such caution. I would remind the selectors that one of Minoso's records was the number of times he was hit by pitches. Probably because, some white pitches who still couldn't accept that they were sharing the "National Pastime" with black players who were as good or better than them. Minoso stood fast in the box. He would not be intimidated. He crowded the plate. For that alone, he deserves recognition.
I don't know what's holding up the selectors, but he was one of the first African-Americans in MLB because he was good. Actually, great.