Chicago’s First Black Major League Baseball Player Minnie Minoso Dies

Minnie Minoso speaks to the media about the passing of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks during SoxFest 2015.
Minnie Minoso speaks to the media about the passing of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks during SoxFest 2015.

The family of Minnie Minoso is thanking fans and friends for all the “kind expressions of concern, sympathy and compassion” after the White Sox great died Sunday morning.

“Our entire family appreciates the kind expressions of concern, sympathy and compassion from so many of our friends and fans of the White Sox during this most difficult time,” the family said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

“Minnie lived a full life of joy and happiness, surrounded always by friends and family,” it continued. “It is during moments like these that love matters most.  Minnie enjoyed nothing more than to be at the ballpark cheering on his White Sox.  For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile, and he would want us all to remember him that way, smiling at a ballgame.

“As he so often said, ‘God bless you, my friends.’ ”

Minoso had gone out Saturday night for a friend’s birthday party when he apparently fell ill and pulled over in the Lakeview neighborhood, according to police and family.

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, according to police.  There were no signs of trauma and Minoso was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:09 a.m., police said.

Chicago police said they were conducting a death investigation, as is routine.  An autopsy will be performed.

His son said the family believes Minoso died from a heart ailment, but were awaiting the autopsy results. He had a pacemaker.

“He was an extraordinary person,” Charlie Rice-Minoso said. “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,” he added, choking up.  “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.”

Minoso’s age was listed as 90, but there was some question about whether he really was born in 1922 instead of 1925 as he insisted. When asked about his age, he once said, “Look what they say in Sox record book.”

Rice-Minoso said the family is going with 90. “That’s the number we have down in a Spanish documents.  That’s the date,” he said.

“It’s kind of a running joke,” Rice-Minoso said. “That was the one topic he didn’t want to focus on, so of course that’s what everyone wanted to know.”

There was no dispute about Minoso’s talent as a player and his impact on the Chicago baseball landscape. He was a seven-time All-Star whose combination of speed and power led a White Sox revival in the 1950s.

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SOURCE: Ed Sherman
The Chicago Tribune

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