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Sports Then and Now

Minnie Minoso: Baseball’s 7-Decade Man

Posted on May 18, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso

The May Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is the only person in professional baseball history to appear in a game in seven different decades.

Santurnino “Minnie” Minoso made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1949 and appeared in a major or independent league professional game in each of the following six decades to establish a record that will likely never be broken.

While Minoso has received his greatest notoriety for his occasional comebacks, he was in actuality a much-decorated outfielder throughout the 1950s.

After making a brief debut in 1949 for the Cleveland Indians, Minoso played eight games for the Indians to start the 1951 season before being traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of a three-team trade.

His 1951 rookie season ended up being one of the best of his career as he hit .326 with 34 doubles, 14 triples, 10 home runs, 112 runs scored, 31 stolen bases and 76 RBI to make the All-Star team, finish second in Rookie of the Year voting (behind Gil McDougald) and fourth in the MVP voting.

He spent six more seasons with the White Sox and batted over .300 four times and had three seasons with more than 100 runs scored and 100 RBI. He led the AL with 18 triples in 1954 and 11 in 1956. In 1957 he was selected as one of the original recipients of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award and received the honor in three of the first four years of the award.

Following the 1957 season he was traded by the White Sox back to the Indians for future Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn.

In each of the next two seasons Minoso hit .302 and he blasted more than 20 home runs and scored over 90 runs each season while finishing in the top 20 in MVP voting both seasons.

He was traded back to the White Sox prior to the 1960 season and earned his seventh All-Star appearance while finishing fourth in league MVP voting at the age of 34 with a .311 batting average, 20 home runs, 105 RBI and 89 runs scored.

After another solid season in 1961, Minoso completed his primary major league career with stints in St. Louis and Washington before returning for a brief stay with the White Sox in 1964.

He continued to play professionally in the Mexican League and in 1976 at the age of 50, White Sox owner Bill Veeck brought Minoso back to the majors as a publicity stunt. He became the fourth oldest player in major league history to record a base hit as he went one for eight in three games.

In 1980 Minoso joined Nick Altrock as the only person to play in the majors in five decades. He played in two games, but did not record a hit in two at bats.

Major League Baseball blocked Minoso’s attempt to play in six decades in 1990 when they would not let him appear in a minor league game for the Miami Miracle. However, in 1993 he made an appearance in the Independent Northern League for the St. Paul Saints, which were owned by Veeck’s son. In 2003 he returned to the Saints and drew a walk, becoming the only player to appear professionally in seven decades.

Minoso’s major league statistics are very impressive, though just below Hall of Fame standards. The seven-time All-Star hit .298 (.299 excluding his 10 at bats in the 1970s and 1980s) with 186 home runs, 1,023 RBI, 1,136 runs scored, 336 doubles, 83 triples and 205 stolen bases.

He never appeared in a post season game and the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes he ever received was 21.1%.

However, Minoso was one of the most popular White Sox players of all-time and will go down in history as baseball’s only seven decade man.

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