Minnie Minoso is throwing out the first pitch for today’s White Sox home opener. And there’s a great feature on him over at the Chicago Tribune today. There really is no one like him. No one who had a career with the arc of the one he had. Just an astounding man and an astounding story.
And he was an astounding player. He had a .389 career OBP, .459 slugging percentage, had speed and was an excellent left fielder. There weren’t a lot of players like him in his era — his prime was the station-to-station baseball of the mid-50s — so his skills were overlooked by many. His age is an open question, but most people believe that he was in his late 20s when he became a major league regular for the White Sox in 1951, delayed by the color barrier. Minoso was the first dark-skinned Latino to play post-Jackie Robinson. If he had a chance to play earlier, he’d have been pushing 3000 hits, one can assume. As it was, he continued his career in Mexico following the end of his MLB days, and his staying power down there made Julio Franco look like a quitter.
Minoso is up for election by the Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee this December. I’m not confident given that body’s track record, but it would be nice to see Minoso get what Ron Santo didn’t get: a chance to take his deserving place in the Hall of Fame while he’s still walking the Earth.
UPDATE: Here is what, in my view anyway, constitutes a sad update. The Yankees and Red Sox will not, themselves, be wearing these cool Union Jack caps on the field during the London Series games. They will be wearing regular caps with a special patch.
The good news is that the Union Jack caps will still be available to purchase if you’re so inclined. They’re just not going to be official on-field replicas. Alas.
My verbiage about the propriety of wearing Union Jack baseball-themed merchandise below still stands.
12:45 PM: Patriots in Boston led the fight against Great Britain for an independent America. The popularization of the word “yankee” has its origins in an often derogatory term British military and political leaders used for people native to the American colonies. In light of that, with the possible exception of the Nationals — it’s hard to find two teams with a better regional and/or etymological claim on, well, not being British.
But, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. here are the caps Major League Baseball just revealed the Yankees and Red Sox will be wearing in London when they meet next month:
And check out the crown on the back:
My intro to this article aside, I have no problem with these at all. Indeed, they look pretty cool. I’ve seen some people being grumpy about it seriously, in contrast to my jokingly, citing the history of the colonies and the Revolution and all of that and calling them inappropriate, but c’mon. These are some boss caps.
Besides (a) the war ended 238 years ago; and (b) we probably stole baseball from them anyway. Let your freak flag– er, Jack, fly.