Buck O’Neil, Minnie Miñoso Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Buck O’Neil, Minnie Miñoso Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame: Buck O’Neil, Minnie Miñoso and Gil Hodges among six voted in by eras committees

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The National Baseball Hall of Fame will induct at least six new members in 2022. Sunday evening the Hall of Fame’s Early Baseball Era Committee announced Negro League legends Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil have been voted into Cooperstown. Also voted in were Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, and Tony Oliva by the Golden Days Era Committee.

Simply put, O’Neil is a Negro Leagues icon and one of the most important figures in baseball history. A fine player who went to three All-Star Games in 10 Negro League seasons, O’Neil founded the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame in Kansas City following his playing days, and he was also the first Black coach in baseball history. O’Neil died at age 94 in 2006, and the Buck O’Neil Award is given annually to the “individual whose extraordinary efforts enhanced baseball’s positive impact on society, broadened the game’s appeal, and whose character, integrity and dignity are comparable to the qualities exhibited by O’Neil.”

Hodges, an eight-time All-Star and manager of the 1969 Miracle Mets, was long considered one of the most worthy candidates not yet voted into the Hall of Fame. He played 18 seasons with the Dodgers and Mets, including 17 after returning from World War II, and retired as a career .273/.359/.487 hitter with 1,921 hits and 370 home runs. He was also considered one of the best defensive infielders of his era. Hodges died at age 47 in 1972.

“When you mention all-time greats in Dodger history, Gil Hodges is among the finest to ever don Dodger blue,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said in a statement. “We are thrilled that he will finally take his place in Cooperstown alongside the game’s greats and look forward to honoring him next year.”

As with Hodges and O’Neil, Miñoso’s induction is long overdue. The Cuban Comet was one of the league’s first Latino players and All-Stars, and he is also considered the first Black Cuban player in the big leagues. He hit .299/.387/.461 with 2,110 hits, 195 home runs, and 216 steals in parts of 20 seasons, most with the White Sox. Miñoso, a 13-time All-Star, died at age 89 in 2015.

“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.”

Kaat, now 83, pitched a remarkable 25 seasons in the big leagues, winning 283 games and 16 Gold Gloves. He played for five teams but spent most of his time with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise, and his 190 wins are second on the franchise leaderboard behind Hall of Famer Walter Johnson’s 417. Kaat has also had a very long broadcasting career, and he continues to call games to this day for MLB Network.

The 1964 AL Rookie of the Year and an eight-time All-Star, the 83-year-old Oliva retired as a career .304/.353/.476 hitter who five times led the league in hits, four times led in doubles, and three times led in batting average. He was twice the AL MVP runner-up as well. Oliva spent his entire career with the Twins and ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in every meaningful offensive category. He and Miñoso are the fifth and sixth Cuban players elected to the Hall of Fame.

“The Pohlad family and entire Minnesota Twins organization would like to congratulate Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat on their long-awaited and well-deserved election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame,” Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter said in a statement. “From his prodigious on-field career to the broadcast booth, and in the hearts of fans everywhere in our region, ‘Tony O’ embodies what it truly means to be a Minnesota Twin and has been the greatest ambassador for this organization since his arrival in the Upper Midwest. In the same vein, ‘Kitty’ has made an indelible impact on our organization and our fans, from the 15 years he spent with the Twins/Senators franchise to his time in the broadcast booth.”

Fowler is widely considered the first Black professional baseball player. He pitched and played the infield in the 1800s and later helped found the Page Fence Giants, one of the all-time great Black barnstorming teams. Fowler died at age 54 in 1913.

The Early Baseball Era Committee covers candidates whose contributions to game came prior to 1950. Joining Fowler and O’Neil on this year’s ballot were Negro League stars John Donaldson, Vic Harris, Grant “Home Run” Johnson, Dick “Cannonball” Redding, and George “Tubby” Scales. American and National Leaguers Bill Dahlen, Lefty O’Doul, and Allie Reynolds were on the ballot as well. All 10 are deceased.

The Golden Days Era Committee covers candidates whose contributions to game came between 1951-69. This year’s ballot included Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Roger Maris, Danny Murtaugh, Billy Pierce, and Maury Wills in addition to Hodges, Kat, Miñoso, and Oliva. All except Kaat, Oliva, and Wills are deceased.

The eras committees consist of 16 members who vote on each candidate, with 12 votes required for induction. The voting bodies include Hall of Fame members, baseball executives, and veteran media members. Here are the voting results:

Golden Days Era Early Baseball Era
1. Minnie Miñoso: 14 votes 1. Buck O’Neil: 13 votes
2. Gil Hodges: 12 votes 2. Bud Fowler: 12 votes
3. Jim Kaat: 12 votes 3. Vic Harris: 10 votes
4. Tony Oliva: 12 votes 4. John Donaldson: 8 votes
5. Dick Allen: 11 votes 5. Allie Reynolds: 6 votes
All others received three or fewer votes All others received five or fewer votes

 

Allen fell one vote short of induction for the second time. He was also one vote short in the 2015 Golden Days Era Committee vote. Allen passed away at age 78 last December and was one of the greatest hitters of his era, authoring a .292/.378/.534 batting line with 351 homers in part of 15 seasons. He’ll be eligible for a vote again when the Golden Days Era Committee meets next in 2026.

Several years ago the Hall of Fame replaced the Veterans Committee with four eras committees that meet every few years. In addition to the Early Baseball Era and Golden Days Era, there’s also the Modern Baseball Era (1970-87) and Today’s Game Era (1988 to present) Committees. Today’s Game will vote in December 2022, then Modern Baseball in December 2023.

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Buck O’Neil

Buck O’Neil
Buck O'Neil.jpg
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First baseman
Born: November 13, 1911
Carrabelle, Florida
Died: October 6, 2006 (aged 94)
Kansas City, Missouri
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
debut
1937, for the Memphis Red Sox
Last appearance
1955, for the Kansas City Monarchs
Negro American League statistics
Batting average .258
Home runs 9
Runs batted in 175
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Incoming Member of the National
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Baseball Hall of Fame
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Induction 2022
Vote 81.3%
Election method Early Baseball Era Committee

John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Jr. (November 13, 1911 – October 6, 2006) was a first baseman and manager in the Negro American League, mostly with the Kansas City Monarchs. After his playing days, he worked as a scout and became the first African American coach in Major League Baseball.[1] In his later years he became a popular and renowned speaker and interview subject, helping to renew widespread interest in the Negro leagues, and played a major role in establishing the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2021.

O’Neil’s life was documented in Joe Posnanski‘s 2007 book The Soul of Baseball.

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Minnie Miñoso

Minnie Miñoso
Minnie Miñoso 1953 Bowman.jpg
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Miñoso with the Chicago White Sox in 1953
Left fielder
Born: November 29, 1925
Perico, Cuba
Died: March 1, 2015 (aged 89)
Chicago, Illinois
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
Professional debut
NgL: 1947, for the New York Cubans
MLB: April 19, 1949, for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1980, for the Chicago White Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average .299
Hits 2,110
Home runs 195
Runs batted in 1,093
Teams
Negro leagues
Major League Baseball
Career highlights and awards
Incoming Member of the National
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Induction 2022
Vote 87.5%
Election method Golden Days Era Committee

Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso (/mɪˈns/, Spanish: [miˈɲoso]; born Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta; November 29, 1925 – March 1, 2015), nicknamed “The Cuban Comet” and “Mr. White Sox”, was a Cuban professional baseball player. He began his baseball career in the Negro leagues in 1946 and became an All-Star third baseman with the New York Cubans. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB) after the 1948 season as baseball’s color line fell. Miñoso went on to become an All-Star left fielder with the Indians and Chicago White Sox. The first Black Cuban in the major leagues and the first black player in White Sox history, as a 1951 rookie he was the one of the first Latin Americans to play in an MLB All-Star Game.

Miñoso was an American League (AL) All-Star for seven seasons and a Gold Glove winner for three seasons when he was in his 30s. He batted over .300 for eight seasons. He was the AL leader in triples and stolen bases three times each and in hits, doubles, and total bases once each. Willie Mays (179 steals) and Miñoso (167 steals) have been widely credited with leading the resurgence of speed as an offensive weapon in the 1950s. Miñoso was particularly adept at reaching base, leading the AL in times hit by pitch a record ten times, and holding the league mark for career times hit by pitch from 1959 to 1985. Miñoso, as a defensive standout, led the AL left fielders in assists six times and in putouts and double plays four times each.

Miñoso was one of the most popular and dynamic players in White Sox franchise history. He helped the “Go-Go” White Sox become one of the premier teams of the 1950s and 1960s. A rare power threat on a team known for speed and defense, Miñoso also held the White Sox record for career home runs from 1956 to 1974.

Miñoso left the major leagues following the 1964 season, but went on playing and managing in Mexico through 1973. He rejoined the White Sox as a coach, and made brief but highly publicized player appearances in 1976 and 1980. He became the third player to get a hit after the age of 50 and the second player to appear in the major leagues in five decades. Miñoso’s White Sox uniform number 9 was retired in 1983, and a statue of him was unveiled at U.S. Cellular Field in 2004. Miñoso was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in Exile in 1983, and to the Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

In 2014, Miñoso appeared for the second time as a candidate on the National Baseball Hall of Fame‘s Golden Era Committee election ballot for possible Hall of Fame consideration in 2015. He and the other candidates including former White Sox teammate Billy Pierce, and two other former players from Cuba, Tony Oliva and Luis Tiant, all missed induction in 2015. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2021.

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