Chicago's 1st black major league baseball player Minoso dies

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Chicago's 1st black major league baseball player Minoso dies
Minnie Minoso, the White Sox's first black player, played 12 of his 17 years in the Major Leagues in Chicago.
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 26: Former Chicago White Sox player Minnie Minoso throws out the first pitch to Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox before the game between the Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays on April 26, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 31: Former Negro League player Minnie Minoso sits in the dugout of the San Diego Padres prior to the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Petco Park on May 31, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 31: Former Negro League player Minnie Minoso throws out the first pitch before a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Toronto Blue Jays at Petco Park on May 31, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - 1992: Former player Orestes 'Minnie' Minoso of the Chicago White Sox poses for a portrait prior to an Old Timer's Day game in 1992 at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images)
White Sox player, Nellie Fox, at home plate, shaking hands with Minnie Minoso, during game with Red Sox. (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
White Sox player, Minnie Minose, in locker room, wearing shorts. (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - 1952. Minnie Minoso, left, and Sam Mele of the Chicago White Sox have a talk before a game in Yankee Stadium in New York during the 1952 season. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
The magazine Fotos features baseball stars from the professional league with players in portraits on the cover. Minnie Minoso, Claro Duany, Alejandro Crespo, and Chuck Connors all appear on the cover of this issue published in 1946 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) -- Minnie Minoso, who hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat when he became major league baseball's first black player in Chicago in 1951, has died, the Cook County medical examiner said Sunday.

The medical examiner's office did not immediately offer further details. There is some question about Minoso's age but the White Sox say he was 92.

Minoso played 12 of his 17 seasons in Chicago, hitting .304 with 135 homers and 808 RBIs for the White Sox. The White Sox retired his No. 9 in 1983 and there is a statue of Minoso at U.S. Cellular Field.

Minoso made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1949 and was dealt to Chicago in a three-team trade two years later. He made his White Sox debut on May 1, 1951, and homered in his first plate appearance against Yankees right-hander Vic Raschi.

It was the start of a beautiful relationship between the Cuban slugger and the White Sox.

Minoso, regarded as baseball's first black Latino star, was a Havana native who spent most of his career in left field. He is one of only two players to appear in a major league game in five different decades. He got his final hit in 1976 at age 53 and went 0 for 2 in two games in 1980 for the White Sox, who tried unsuccessfully over the years to get the "Cuban Comet" into baseball's Hall of Fame.

"When I watched Minnie Minoso play, I always thought I was looking at a Hall of Fame player," White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in an informational package produced by the team for a 2011 Cooperstown push. "I never understood why Minnie wasn't elected.

"He did everything. He could run, he could field, he could hit with power, he could bunt and steal bases. He was one of the most exciting players I have ever seen."

Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso Arrieta was selected for nine All-Star games and won three Gold Gloves in left. He was hit by a pitch 192 times, ninth on baseball's career list, and finished in the top four in AL MVP voting four times.

Despite the push by the White Sox and other prominent Latin players, Minoso has never made it to Cooperstown. His highest percentage during his 15 years on the writers' ballot was 21.1 in 1988. He was considered by the Veterans Committee in 2014 and fell short of the required percentage for induction.

"My last dream is to be in Cooperstown, to be with those guys," Minoso said in that 2011 package distributed by the White Sox. "I want to be there. This is my life's dream."

Minoso, who made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1949, hit .298 for his career with 186 homers and 1,023 RBIs. The speedy Minoso also led the AL in triples and steals three times in each category.

Playing in an era dominated by the Yankees, Minoso never played in the postseason.

"Every young player in Cuba wanted to be like Minnie Minoso, and I was one of them," Hall of Fame slugger Tony Perez said. "The way he played the game, hard all the time, hard. He was very consistent playing the game. He tried to win every game. And if you want to be like somebody, and I picked Minnie, you have to be consistent."

Minoso appeared in just nine games in his first stint with the Indians, but he took off when he was dealt to Chicago as part of a three-team trade in 1951 that also involved the Philadelphia Athletics. He went deep in his first plate appearance against Yankees right-hander Raschi, and hit .375 in his first 45 games with the White Sox.

Minoso finished that first season in Chicago with a .326 batting average, 10 homers and 76 RBIs in 146 games for the Indians and White Sox. He also had a major league-best 14 triples and an AL-best 31 steals.

It was Minoso's first of eight seasons with at least a .300 batting average. He also had four seasons with at least 100 RBIs.

"I have baseball in my blood," Minoso said. "Baseball is all I've ever wanted to do."

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