Minnie Minoso: Chicago’s First Black Major League Baseball Player Dead Aged 90

Baseball legend Minnie Minoso has died today, Sunday March 1, at the age of 90, according toReuters.

Minoso was nicknamed the Cuban Comet and became Chicago’s first black player when he joined the White Sox in 1951. Minoso played 16 seasons in the major leagues, including 12 seasons for the White Sox.

Minoso was a major figure behind the integration of black players into the majors. Minnie Minoso was born in Cuba and joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948, just one year after Jackie Robinson first broke the league’s color barrier. Minoso went on to become a seven-time all-star and one of the White Sox’s most popular players. The White Sox even retired Minoso’s No.9 uniform after his retirement.

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf paid a touching tribute today in a statement on the league’s website.

“Our organization and our city have suffered a heart-breaking loss today, we have lost our dear friend and a great man. Many tears are falling.”

According to Fox News, Minoso was regarded as baseball’s first black Latino star. The slugger was born in Havana and spent most of his career in left field. He is one of only two players to appear in a major league game in five different decades. He got his final hit in 1976 at age 53 and went 0 for 2 in two games in 1980 for the White Sox 29 years after his debut.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Minnie Minoso was driving home from a birthday celebration when he apparently fell ill. Police say that he was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat of his car near a gas station in the 2800 block of North Ashland Avenue around 1 a.m. Sunday. There were no signs of trauma, but police will carry our a routine “sudden death” inquiry.

Minnie Minoso’s son Charlie Rice-Minoso said that he believed his father had died from a heart attack. Minoso’s son Charlie went on to pay tribute to his father.

“He was an extraordinary person. He made many contributions to baseball and to Chicago. He’ll be missed most by his family and closest friends.

“He had so many amazing relationships with people, it was just amazing to see that, even after so many years after he played, to see how he was respected. We’re just eternally grateful.”

The White Sox tried unsuccessfully over the years to get the Minnie Minoso into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Minoso once summed up his passion for baseball, saying, “When I die, I want to be playing baseball. Truly. They don’t bury me without my uniform.”

Minnie Minoso leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Sharon, two sons and two daughters, Marilyn and Cecilia. There is no news as to funeral arrangements at present.

[Photo by David Banks/Getty Images]