Minnie Miñoso and Buck O’Neil are voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by special committees, but Dick Allen falls 1 vote short

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·6 min read
Minnie Miñoso and Buck O’Neil are voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by special committees, but Dick Allen falls 1 vote short
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“The Cuban Comet” has landed in Cooperstown.

Minnie Miñoso was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday along with two others with Chicago connections, Jim Kaat and Buck O’Neil.

Miñoso, a former White Sox great, was one of four players elected through the Golden Days Era committee, joining Kaat — who also spent time with the Sox — Gil Hodges and Tony Oliva.

“This tremendous honor would have meant a great deal to my dad, and it means a great deal to us,” Miñoso’s son Charlie Rice-Miñoso said in a statement. “My dad lived the American dream. He was able to open doors and break barriers all while doing what he loved, fulfilling his lifelong dream of being a major-league baseball player.

“He devoted his life to baseball, to all the fans, to the community and to Chicago, which he loved. He was so proud to be Black, to be a Cuban, to be an American and to be a professional baseball player for the Chicago White Sox. He also would have been so very proud to be a Hall of Famer.”

O’Neil, one of the game’s greatest ambassadors who was the first Black coach in American League or National League history with the Cubs, was elected through the Early Baseball Era committee along with Bud Fowler.

Dick Allen, a former AL MVP with the White Sox, fell short by one vote of election by the Golden Days Era committee.

The new electees will be honored during Hall of Fame Weekend on July 22-25 in Cooperstown, N.Y. The induction ceremony is July 24.

Candidates had to receive at least 75% of the vote by the 16-member committees — or 12 votes — to gain election. Miñoso received 14 votes, Kaat, Hodges and Oliva got 12 each and Allen received 11. O’Neil got 13 votes and Fowler 12.

Miñoso, who died in 2015, was the first Black player for the White Sox in 1951, and he quickly emerged as one of the game’s first Afro-Latino stars.

He was a nine-time All-Star and won three Gold Glove Awards as an outfielder during 17 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Senators. He also made All-Star rosters in 1947 and ‘48 with the New York Cubans in the Negro Leagues.

With the recent addition of his New York Cubans stats by Major League Baseball, Miñoso has 2,110 career hits, 195 home runs, 216 stolen bases and a .299 lifetime batting average.

“Today’s announcement is a terrific, well-deserved and long overdue honor for Minnie Miñoso and the Miñoso family,” Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “While bittersweet because of his passing in 2015, Hall of Fame induction is the fitting capstone to Minnie’s amazing career in baseball, a career that started in segregation and ultimately led to Cooperstown.

“Trailblazer among Afro-Latinos and Cubans, five-tool dynamo on the baseball diamond, ‘Mr. White Sox,’ ambassador for baseball and the Chicago White Sox, teammate and friend, any description of his career now ends with the words ‘Hall of Famer.’ How right and how appropriate for someone who loved the game of baseball with every breath he took. While we all wish he could be here to celebrate with us now, as well as next July, I know our friend is smiling broadly tonight.”

Kaat collected 283 wins over 25 seasons, 15 of them with the Minnesota Twins. He had a 45-28 record with a 3.10 ERA in 92 appearances (87 starts) during parts of three seasons (1973-75) with the White Sox.

Kaat won 21 games for the Sox in 1974 and 20 in 1975. He was an All-Star in 1975 and finished tied for fourth in AL Cy Young Award voting.

O’Neil was a three-time All-Star during 10 seasons with the Memphis Red Sox and Monarchs of the Negro American League, according to the most recent information available on baseball-reference.com. He became a scout for the Cubs in 1956, according to a May 30, 1962, Tribune story, and was hired to the team’s coaching staff in late May of ‘62.

O’Neil, who died in 2006, helped found the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, established in 2007, is named in his honor.

Fowler, born in 1858, is often regarded as the first Black professional baseball player. Hodges was an eight-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers and also managed the 1969 “Miracle Mets” to a World Series championship. Oliva was a three-time AL batting champion with the Twins whose career was cut short by knee problems. He and Kaat are the only living new members.

Allen was the 1972 AL MVP with the Sox. He previously earned 1964 NL Rookie of the Year honors with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Allen, who died last December, played from 1963-77 for five teams and had 351 home runs, 1,119 RBIs and a .292 average. He hit .307 with 85 home runs and 242 RBIs during his three seasons with the Sox, leading the league in homers in 1972 and ‘74.

The Golden Days Era committee also considered Billy Pierce, Ken Boyer, Roger Maris, Danny Murtaugh and Maury Wills. Each received three or fewer votes, according to a release from the Hall of Fame. Pierce, a seven-time All-Star, went 211-169 with a 3.27 ERA in 18 seasons, 13 with the White Sox. Boyer also spent time with the Sox.

Bill Dahlen, John Donaldson, Vic Harris, Grant Johnson, Lefty O’Doul, Dick Redding, Allie Reynolds and George Scales were also on the Early Baseball Era ballot. Redding played for the Chicago American Giants, among other teams. Donaldson, who received eight votes, pitched in the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues for more than 30 years and was a White Sox scout from 1949-54.

In a release, the Sox said Miñoso is the 16th person in franchise history elected to the Hall of Fame with the Sox serving as the “primary” team, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“My husband enjoyed so many relationships within baseball, with the White Sox and with current players,” Sharon Rice-Miñoso, Miñoso’s wife, said in a statement. “He acted like a surrogate father to many players over the years. He loved his countrymen, who they were as people, and their friendships are all a testament to his commitment to how he respected each person he met as an individual regardless of their contributions. I know that’s what he was very proud of creating.

“The White Sox absolutely are family, and Minnie was so proud to wear that uniform every day, to come to the ballpark and to sign autograph after autograph. My family wants to thank Jerry Reinsdorf, all the players who befriended us over the many years, as well as all of the employees who loved my husband and never gave up hope that this day might finally arrive.”