Late MLB all-star, former Cleveland Indian Minnie Miñoso to be inducted into hall of fame

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Cuban Comet is one of many nicknames for legendary baseball player Minnie Miñoso announced to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday.

It’s an honor his son, Charlie Rice-Miñoso, said would have been a dream realized for his father who died at the age of 90 in 2015.

“We all just burst into tears of joy,” said Charlie Rice-Miñoso. “It was just so touching but again bittersweet.”

The late Cuban born professional baseball player had a long career that began in the Negro League.

Miñoso later caught the attention of the then-Cleveland Indians who signed him in 1949.

“Minnie Miñoso was the first Afro-Latino to break the color barrier after Jackie [Robinson],” said Shakeia Taylor, a baseball writer. “It was a huge deal. He kind of paved the way for other Afro-Latinos to come to the states to play.”

The Cleveland Guardians tweeted their congratulations on the hall of fame induction. The baseball club said he was a member of the franchise’s top-100 roster and spent four seasons in Cleveland, the majority of that time during the 1950s.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said Miñoso was the first Latin player with dark skin to appear in an American league or National League game.

“Minnie was hit by pitches a lot,” said Taylor. “He was intentionally hit, I should specify, by pitches simply for being black. He basically dealt with both racism and xenophobia simultaneously and somehow, he managed not to retaliate.”

His son remembers Miñoso not holding bitterness about the way he treated by some while, at the same time, not glossing over the obstacles, including racism and colorism that were prevalent of the time.

“I remember growing up, we were at some function with a variety of former players from that era,” said Rice-Miñoso. “There was a pitcher who like came up to my dad and just broke down crying and was just like, ‘I’m so sorry for how I treated you back then.”‘

According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the all-star played a total of 17 seasons with the Indians, Cardinals, Senators and Chicago White Sox, where he is most well-known.

“Minnie is an icon and I use ‘is’ in the present tense,” said Taylor. “He passed away in 2015, but he left a legacy that will live on for a long time. He was a mentor to young players. He is the reason a lot of young Cuban players, even in the league today they will cite him as their hero.”

For a proud son, this national honor cemented what Rice-Miñoso said he already knew about his dad — a trailblazer in the culture and sport. He was one of a kind.

“If I could say anything to him right now, I would say, ‘Congratulations, you did it,”‘ said Rice-Miñoso. “We all knew that he belonged here… He was a sensational person first and he was a great baseball player second.”

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