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  • Roberto Clemente Day

    I see the Pirates will be honoring Roberto Clemente on Sept. 9, with the uniformed team wearing the retired 21. This is really a cool tribute to a great man who meant so much to the Pirates. Every team needs to remember Jackie Robinson (who had a weekly column in the Pittsburgh Courier while he was playing in 151 regular season and seven World Series games for the Brooklyn Dodgers, such was his national importance). Franchises with a history also have players who deserve recognition beyond the number on the wall.

    I saw Clemente play in a twi-night doubleheader at Forbes Field in 1969. He didn't do anything special, but at least I saw him at the ballpark when he was still in his prime. Of course, his death on a mercy mission to Nicaragua that he had arranged after a massive earthquake looms large in his legend. It's why he only recorded 3,000 hits. I was listening to the Pirates game on KDKA from my Munster, Indiana, bedroom that night. Of course, he may have had the greatest arm from right field in the history of the game.

    I don't know who on the White Sox would deserve a similar honor. The Giants have the Willies, Mays and McCovey who did so much for baseball and the community(my wife worked for the newspaper in Modesto a few years ago and recalls that the editor would ask if "Willie" was still alive before leaving, the implication being that either Mays or McCovey passing would require a late Page 1 rebuild), but I really don't know who would be worthy of such an honor after Clemente. I would hate to see the tribute watered down by other teams. It's not just about the team's Mount Rushmore.

    Like Jackie Robinson, this tribute is about baseball, but it's about more than baseball. In that way, it's what makes (I hope I can use that in the present tense) baseball great.

  • #2
    Minnie Minoso would be my choice.

    I hope the Pirates wear throwbacks with the vests for this. That was such an awesome usniform.
    “It's not the high price of stardom that bothers me...it's the high price of mediocrity." - Bill Veeck

    "If I was going to storm a pillbox, going to sheer, utter, certain death, and the Colonel said 'Shepherd, pick six guys", I'd pick six White Sox fans because they have known death every day of their lives and it holds no terror for them." - Jean Shepherd

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    • #3
      Clemente was one of my favorite players growing up. I agree that Minnie best represents Clemente from a Sox standpoint.
      (Formerly asindc.)

      "I have the ultimate respect for White Sox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Red Sox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country." Jim Caple, ESPN (January 12, 2011)

      "We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the (bleeding) obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." — George Orwell

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      • #4
        I really don't see Minoso as being anywhere near to the White Sox what Clemente was to Pittsburgh. I'm not sure the White Sox have a single player that means as much to the city or franchise. The Red Sox have Ted Williams, although he was more beloved after he retired. The Padres have Tony Gwynn, who grew up in San Diego and died coaching for his alma mater San Diego State. A sports columnist in San Diego wrote after Gwynn's death that the Ted Williams Parkway, a San Diego highway that hooks up with I-5, should be renamed for Gwynn. Ridiculous, of course. Find another highway to name for Gwynn. When I was a kid, there was the Calumet Expressway south of Chicago. Some years later I returned home to find it the Bishop Ford.

        I wouldn't be surprised if the Mets have such a day for Tom Seaver. It's really sad that someone who fits so well in this thread and looked good in a White Sox uniform that really didn't look very good, should pass away.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by TDog View Post
          I really don't see Minoso as being anywhere near to the White Sox what Clemente was to Pittsburgh. I'm not sure the White Sox have a single player that means as much to the city or franchise. The Red Sox have Ted Williams, although he was more beloved after he retired. The Padres have Tony Gwynn, who grew up in San Diego and died coaching for his alma mater San Diego State. A sports columnist in San Diego wrote after Gwynn's death that the Ted Williams Parkway, a San Diego highway that hooks up with I-5, should be renamed for Gwynn. Ridiculous, of course. Find another highway to name for Gwynn. When I was a kid, there was the Calumet Expressway south of Chicago. Some years later I returned home to find it the Bishop Ford.

          I wouldn't be surprised if the Mets have such a day for Tom Seaver. It's really sad that someone who fits so well in this thread and looked good in a White Sox uniform that really didn't look very good, should pass away.
          I’m looking at it from a pioneering aspect.
          (Formerly asindc.)

          "I have the ultimate respect for White Sox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Red Sox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country." Jim Caple, ESPN (January 12, 2011)

          "We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the (bleeding) obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." — George Orwell

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JazzyCyclist View Post

            I’m looking at it from a pioneering aspect.
            Minoso's pioneering aspects are exaggerated today by fans. Certainly, he was a star and very popular among Sox fans. He was the first player of African descent to play for a Chicago MLB team, although he wasn't African-American, being Cuban. He was still among the Negro League players at the 1947 All-Star Game at Comiskey Park who had hopes of being allowed into the Major League Baseball. He didn't break in with the White Sox, though. He had appeared in games with Cleveland since 1949 and shown his potential. But the color line in Chicago was going to be broken in 1951 regardless of the trade for Minoso at the end of April. Bob Boyd and Sam Hairston had been in the Sox spring training camp and would be called up that season, Minoso or not. Boyd didn't do much of anything for the Sox but later had a couple of solid seasons for the Orioles. Hairston caught a couple of games, pinch-hit a couple of times, ended the season with a batting average of .400, on-base percentage of .571, OPS (if anyone cares) of 1.171 and returned to the the Sox minor league system for some years (thanks in part to the emergence of Sherm Lollar).

            Hairston, though, may have had a bigger pioneering aspect than either Minoso or Boyd. After his uniform days were through, he scouted African-American players for the White Sox, included a couple in his gene pool. Jerry Hairston, of course, was his son, and Jerry Hairston himself would become a big-league dad. Sam Hairston also recommended an Alabama prospect, Lee May to the White Sox in the pre-draft days. Lee May signed with the Reds and became part of the Big Red Machine. Lee May was the grandfather of former White Sox outfielder Jacob May and brother of Carlos May, first-round pick of the White Sox in the 1966 draft, on Hairston's recommendation.

            It's amazing, really, how African-American players who played into the 21st century can be linked to the early days of baseball integration. Carlos May was identified as can't-miss by one of the first African-American players to appear for the White Sox. Harold Baines (who retired after the 2001 season) was identified as can't-miss by the owner who signed Larry Doby to the Indians to be the second African-American major leaguer of the 20th century after Branch Rickey's Jackie Robinson experiment started to flourish in Brooklyn. The owner who made Baines the first-overall pick in the 1977 draft also signed Minoso almost three decades earlier. But Baines was able to grow up with a realistic career goal of playing major league baseball.

            Not that this has anything to do with Roberto Clemente. The standard I was going by at the outset was the star that meant so much to the franchise that his obituary would be an actual Page 1 news story.
            Last edited by TDog; 09-04-2020, 04:21 PM.

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            • #7
              My dad was a huge fan and would take me to Cubs games just to see him when the Pirates were in town . he passed that on to me, as growing up there were 3 guys who were my idols, Bobby Hull, Ken Berry, and Roberto Clemente . Roberto Clemente is the reason that i'm so obsessed with outfield defense, especially great throws.

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              • #8
                Seriously? What does it MATTER how or why Minoso integrated the team. The fact is he did it and the Go-Go era came in with him. He was a pivotal player on those teams, certainly a fan favorite. If the team would honor anyone, it should be him.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tommy John View Post
                  Seriously? What does it MATTER how or why Minoso integrated the team. The fact is he did it and the Go-Go era came in with him. He was a pivotal player on those teams, certainly a fan favorite. If the team would honor anyone, it should be him.
                  History matters. Minoso's number is retired (although it was assigned to Lee "Bee Bee" Richard in 1971 before the White Sox retired it), and it might not matter to you what degree he was a pioneer for his race. But assigning such a label to Minoso does a disservice to others, most of all Sam Hairston, who did more for African-Americans in White Sox history and was an African-American pioneer with the Sox before the Sox traded for Minoso.

                  Minoso was a star, a fan favorite, one of the great left fielders of his era and before the 1958 season he was traded for Early Wynn, Cy Young Award winner on the 1959 White Sox who finished third in the MVP voting the year the Sox made their championship run. He wasn't a pivotal player when the White Sox went to the World Series at the end of the 1950s, and the team was already in the process of integration when the Sox traded for him in 1951.

                  I am too young to have seen Minoso play and missed him as DH in 1976, although because I was away at college by that point of the season. Earlier in the summer after Veeck signed him up as an ambassador to roam the sparsely filled stands and talking with people, Minoso sat a few seats away from me, up from the on-deck circle just behind the walk in the old ballpark, plenty of empty seats, of course. I have friends who knew him from fantasy camps in the 1990s. I never heard anyone say anything bad about Minoso, and don't believe I did either. I'm not more in for Al Smith, who came in the Early Wynn deal, just because Smith sat in front of me at a Sox-Cubs spring training game in Tucson in 1999 and later died at the hospital in Hammond, Indiana, that consumed my family's auto parts store. I am only arguing that assigning Jackie Robinson-like integration attributes to Minoso is not historically accurate.

                  Minoso broke in with the Indians which already had an African-American star player. The Indians weren't as integrated as the Dodgers by that time, but Larry Doby and Satchel Paige preceded him on the team and Luke Easter was signed before Minoso played his first game with the Indians. Minoso was the 20th century's seventh player of African descent to play in the the majors and first African-Cuban, but it wasn't with the White Sox. He was traded to the White Sox after the Sox had two African-American players in spring training before the season, and both would be called up during the season. The White Sox were already in the process of integrating. Certainly, Minoso was the first star player in Chicago of African descent. Of course, there were still difficulties and challenges to be faced because of his race. But those challenges persisted into the 1960s and beyond. Curt Flood's autobiography deals heavily with racism, and Dick Allen was still wearing a batting helmet while playing defense in the 1970s. For that matter, Tim Anderson's response to racism is a big part of why he's been nominated for the Roberto Clemente award.

                  Really, a baseball player doesn't need to be anything more the best baseball player he can be, and many who give back to the community don't put much of themselves into it, money being something they now have. Clemente was more than that. That's why he's being honored by the Pirates. That's why there's an award in his honor for contributions to society beyond the game. And I consider such things important. I was a huge Dick Allen fan in 1972-73, and Dick Allen only wanted to hit and be left alone, in contrast to what Anderson has done for his community, for society, to be nominated for the award.

                  For Minoso fans who might have taken offense to my previous post, I was pointing out that the White Sox were in the process of integrating before they saw the opportunity to trade for Minoso. While Jackie Robinson paved the way for Minoso, Minoso didn't pave the way for Bob Boyd. Celebrate Minoso's life and career, but he wasn't the White Sox's Jackie Robinson.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    For the record, when I refer to Minnie as a pioneer, it is with his Latino heritage in mind, not necessarily his African heritage.
                    (Formerly asindc.)

                    "I have the ultimate respect for White Sox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Red Sox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country." Jim Caple, ESPN (January 12, 2011)

                    "We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the (bleeding) obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." — George Orwell

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JazzyCyclist View Post
                      For the record, when I refer to Minnie as a pioneer, it is with his Latino heritage in mind, not necessarily his African heritage.
                      Thank you for clarifying. My response was influenced by those in the past who have stated here they believe it would be appropriate for the White Sox to wear Minoso's 9 instead of Robinson's 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.

                      Of course, Minoso wasn't the first Latin player to make an impact on the White Sox in the 1950s. Chico Carrasquel, the slick fielding Venezuelan shortstop, finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 1950 and ended up on a few MVP ballots. He was traded for Larry Doby before the 1955 season to make way for Venezuelan shortstop Luis Aparicio, the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year. But the White Sox's Cuban heritage, as opposed to simply Latin heritage, is getting a lot more attention of late.

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