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Saturday, August 13, 2022

Baseball Gets a Second Chance to Pay Tribute to a Legend

Minnie Mioso served as a role model for many generations of Chicago White Sox baseball players. He played and coached for the club for many years, and he resided in the city year-round, helping to maintain the team’s reputation as a welcome home for Cuban talent. He likes to provide the following piece of advice:

“Fall in love with the game,” Mioso told a reporter over the phone in 2014. “Make everything you do beautiful for the sake of the game, the people, and the nation you are representing. ” I want everyone to follow my lead in this regard.”

When Mioso died the next year, he may have been as young as 89 or as old as 92, depending on who you ask, and his position in baseball history was just as ambiguous as it had been before. In the 1950s, was he mostly a decent hitter with good speed? In the eyes of Bill Veeck, the maverick White Sox owner who temporarily activated him in 1976 and 1980, was he primarily a circus attraction?

Mioso is on the Golden Days ballot, which includes candidates who were born between the years 1950 and 1960. Despite this, his record is transferable to the other ballot, which is mostly focused on Black players from the period prior to integration, known as Early Baseball. Mioso travelled to the United States in 1945, spurred on by Jackie Robinson’s signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and spent three years in the Negro National League, where he played for the New York Cubans, who won the World Series that year.

Mioso persisted in his efforts. Through 1961, he had the third most hits in the majors, following only Nellie Fox and Richie Ashburn over that time period. In addition, Mioso had a higher on-base plus slugging % than both of his teammates.

Fox and Ashburn are both members of the Hall of Fame. Mioso is, of course, up there with the likes of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Stan Musial, who were the only daily players to equal Mioso’s batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage (all.450) during his 11-year peak.

Based on the statistics provided by Baseball Reference, Mioso’s worth is represented in his wins above replacement. In Mioso’s 53.8 wins above replacement, a slew of Hall of Famers — from Earl Averill and Hack Wilson in the 1930s to Jim Rice and Kirt Puckett in the 1980s — are trailing after him.

Eduardo Perez, a former big leaguer whose father, Tony Perez, is a Hall of Famer from Cuba who loved Mioso, claimed that there are Hall of Famers who have less than that. “If we’re looking at the current stats, there are Hall of Famers who have less than that.”

As a result of Mioso’s transfer to Chicago in 1951, the White Sox had a period of resurgence that culminated in 1959 with the team’s first World Series participation in 40 years. Mioso made his impression on the club despite the fact that he was missing since he had been traded back to Cleveland in exchange for Early Wynn, who went on to win the American League Cy Young Award that season.

Mioso may have received greater attention from Hall of Fame voters if he had played in the World Series, won a batting championship or received a Most Valuable Player Award, among other accomplishments. Since the writers gave him nothing to do in 1969, Mioso’s eligibility for the Hall of Fame was delayed until the mid-1980s, thanks to cameo appearances in 1976 and 1980 (which made him a five-decade player).

The majority of voters had never seen him play until that point, or they only knew him for his heroic comebacks. Mioso remained on the ballot until 1999, reaching a high of 21.1 percent in 1988, well below the 75 percent threshold required to win office. Later committees have not been as sympathetic; in 2006, Mioso was denied up in a broader vote on Negro Leaguers because his experience in Major League Baseball could not be taken into consideration since he had played in the league.

It’s possible that this year will be different. In 2020, Major League Baseball (MLB) will formally recognise several of the Negro leagues as being on par with the American and National Leagues, a long-overdue decision that will allow for the expansion of the organization’s official record books. Although Mioso’s data were not precisely concealed previously, the extra context can only be beneficial.

Mioso had a.351 batting average with the Cubans in the 1947 and 1948 seasons, and Veeck purchased his contract rights for $15,000 after that. Because Cleveland was brimming with talent, Mioso was able to dominate the Pacific Coast League for the most of 1949 and 1950. By all rights, he should have been continuing his career as a top-tier big leaguer, which would have bolstered his chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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