Sunday, May 1, 2011
60 Years Ago Today
The great Orestes “Minnie” Minoso made his Chicago White Sox debut after being acquired via trade from the Cleveland Indians.
With his appearance at Comiskey Park, Minoso broke the team’s “color line,” as the White Sox became the first sports organization in Chicago and sixth Major League Baseball team (four years after Jackie Robinson) to feature a Black player.
Minoso homered in his very first at-bat, although the Sox went on to lose to the Yankees, 8-3.
As part of today’s pregame ceremony, we are going to present Minnie with a number of framed items and momentos, including the sports pages from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times (thanks to both papers for providing copies from their May 2, 1952 editions), and a great photo of Minnie on the mound at this year’s Opening Day by Bob Judelson. Both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago have declared today, “Minnie Minoso Day.”
What I love was a comment from Minnie as he described his arrival in Chicago. Always known as “Orestes,” he wondered who in the world was this guy named “Minnie!”
The Daily Sun Times from May 2, 1951 is priceless (well, actually the banner says it cost 4 cents).
Its story features quotes from HOFer Stachel Paige, who was surprised by the Indians trade.
“The Sox got a good man in Minoso,” Paige told the paper. “I rate him No. 1. I’ve been around baseball some 23 years, and if there’s one thing I know, that’s a baseball player when I see one.
“He’s the fastest. That man’s fast as lightning.”
The Tribune is equally classic, with a left-hand “Wake of the News” column by Arch Ward, and headlines of “Derby Trial Captured by FanFare.”
Reporter Irving Vaughan covered the game, which also featured a home run by Yankee rookie Mickey Mantle.
Buried down in his game story was the line … “The Cuban born Negro …”
It was the only mention I could find of Minoso’s race and the important moment that occurred that day in May.
As Jerry Reinsdorf said before today’s game …
“When Minnie homered in his first game with the White Sox on May 1, 1951, it wasn’t just a personal triumph for a great baseball player, it was a blow that helped change baseball and change the Chicago White Sox organization forever.”
Go-Go Sox baseball had arrived.
If someone had told you in March that Carlos Quentin would rank among the league leaders in several offensive categories and Phil Humber would maybe be our best starter through April, would you have thought the team was struggling?
As poorly as the team has played to date (and thank you to everyone who has continued to attend, watch and listen because we have not played up to your faith), there is reason to stay optimistic. In an era with the wild card and a crazy scheduling, postseason hopes for teams on September 1 can appear bleak, but a dominant finish or a fortuitous schedule can make a huge difference.
In our case, we have just 12 games with AL Central foes between May 1 and the All-Star Break, while 47 of our final 69 contests after the ASB are against division competition. We are going to have the opportunity, head-to-head, to beat the teams we need to beat. We will just have to be in a position to do it.