Reinsdorf 'stunned' Minoso not elected to Hall
Golden Era Committee selects only Santo for Cooperstown
DALLAS -- It was hard for White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to mask his complete disappointment after Minnie Minoso came up short of being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, as announced during a Monday news conference at baseball's annual Winter Meetings.
The White Sox icon received nine votes from the Golden Era Committee but needed 12 of the 16 members to support him to reach this ultimate goal.
"I'm stunned. I really thought he'd get 16 votes," said Reinsdorf of Minoso, speaking to the media shortly after the Hall of Fame announced the late Ron Santo as its only electee from the committee's ballot, with Santo receiving 15 votes.
"But I wasn't in the room. I didn't hear the deliberations," Reinsdorf continued. "It's hard to criticize the people who were there when I wasn't there myself. I don't understand it."
This Minoso campaign served as a point of passion for the entire White Sox organization, with the team hosting a November Minoso Hall of Fame Forum at U.S. Cellular Field involving panelists such as Tony Perez and Luis Tiant, to name a few. Reinsdorf believes the information put together by the team concerning Minoso -- who was the White Sox first black player in 1951 and began a stellar 17-year career -- along with the information provided by the Hall of Fame, was more than enough to show he belonged.
"His numbers jump off the page at you. His accomplishments are incredible," Reinsdorf said. "I wonder if this business of coming back in different decades hurt him in some way. I don't know.
"Obviously, I'm going to try to talk to people on the committee and find out what went wrong, although they're not supposed to tell you how they voted. I know last year people tried to pump me for how I voted, and I wouldn't tell anybody."
Reinsdorf was part of the committee last year and pointed out that different people do a different amount of research on each candidate. He added there was no acrimony among his committee, just lively discussion, even with people speaking in favor or against particular players in question.
Some of this year's committee backed Minoso's accomplishments, if not ultimately his candidacy.
"He was maybe the first black Latino in the game. He opened the door for many Latin players, and too bad he's not in," said Juan Marichal of Minoso. "But I hope he gets in someday."
"We went over every player, every person, but what the outcome is nobody knows at the time [we vote]," Hall of Fame manager and committee member Tommy Lasorda said. "You have to get a certain amount of votes to get inducted. That's all it is."
Shortly after the announcement was made Monday at Dallas' Hilton Anatole, Reinsdorf left the room to talk to Minoso by phone. Reinsdorf termed Minoso as "his usual classy self," despite the disappointing news.
"Basically shrugged his shoulders, thanked us for our support and said life would go on," Reinsdorf said. "I don't think he really expected it. I think he knew that it might not happen.
"I've known Minnie for over 30 years, I've never seen him to be anything except up. He's been passed over before. He's always up. He's always been upbeat. He's such a wonderful person."
Minoso, who turned 86 on Nov. 29, hit .298 for his career, with 186 homers, 1,023 RBIs, 1,136 runs scored, 83 triples and 205 stolen bases. He won three Gold Glove Awards and, as Reinsdorf pointed out, made brief but publicized comebacks with the White Sox at age 50 in 1976 (eight at-bats) and at age 54 in 1980 (two at-bats).
As impressive as his on-field accomplishments were, Minoso's legacy stands in part as the Jackie Robinson for Latin American players and his unending goodwill ambassadorship for the game. He'll be eligible again in three years, and the White Sox once again will throw their support behind Minoso.
"If I'm still around in three years, I'm certainly going to do all I can to try to help him," Reinsdorf said. "It absolutely surprises me. It disappoints me.
"Orlando Cepeda spoke out on this many times about how Minnie was the trailblazer, Minnie was the guy who opened the door for all the Latins who came behind him. ... It was a tremendous burden for Minnie. But with all of that, I thought he belonged based on his accomplishments."