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Although he’s a Hawaii native, U.S. President Barack Obama  is Chicago.

With the death of  Chicago White Sox third baseman Minnie Minoso, the first Cuban to play in Major League Baseball, President Obama, a former Illinois state senator weighed in on the Cuban Comet.

For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be “Mr. White Sox.”

The first black Major Leaguer in Chicago, Minnie came to the United States from Cuba even though he could have made more money elsewhere.  He came up through the Negro Leagues, and didn’t speak much English at first.  And as he helped to integrate baseball in the 1950s, he was a target of racial slurs from fans and opponents, sometimes forced to stay in different motels from his teammates.  But his speed, his power – and his resilient optimism – earned him multiple All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves in left field, and he became one of the most dominant and dynamic players of the 1950s.

Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie’s quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.

Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and fans in Chicago, Cleveland, and around the world.

 

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