Ozzie Guillén: Minnie Miñoso is "our Jackie Robinson"

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Ozzie Guillén: Minnie Miñoso is "our Jackie Robinson" originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Minnie Miñoso is once again the talk of baseball as he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, "Mr. White Sox" won't get the chance to put into full context the depth of his legacy as a trailblazer for the game of baseball. But on Sunday, Ozzie Guillén minced no words in comparing his legacy with that of the game's most important figure.

"He's our Jackie Robinson, yes he is," Guillén said on NBC Sports Chicago's White Sox pregame show.

As a Spanish-speaking descendant of who the Hall of Fame states is the "first acknowledged dark-skinned Latin player in AL/NL history," Guillén spoke about what he imagined it was like for the "Cuban Comet" to begin his career in 1951, four years after Robinson broke the color barrier.

"A lot of people talk about Jackie, but Jackie [could] speak English, Jackie went to [English-speaking] schools," Guillén said. "Minnie Miñoso came from another country... but he had one thing in mind: to be a baseball player."

These important dimensions have been long-overlooked, as Miñoso fell through several Hall of Fame ballots with voters who might have compared his impact to players who won more (like Robinson and Roberto Clemente), and might have limited his legacy to stunts like playing in Major League games in five different decades, including his last season at the age of 56.

In 1983, Miñoso's number nine was retired by the White Sox. It was also Ozzie Guillén's number throughout his professional career until he reached the majors and was forced to change it.

As much as Miñoso deserves his induction for what he did on the field, Guillén said his impact was even bigger off of it.

"White Sox fans loved him, baseball people love him, the respect they have for him," Guillén said. "Minnie, rest in peace, had the best life anyone could have."

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