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Chicago White Sox Great Minoso Honored at U of I

The first African-American to wear a major league baseball uniform in Chicago said the sport was ingrained in his blood at an early age, and he owes everything to it.

May 1 marks 60 years since Orestes "Minnie" Minoso broke the city's color line with the White Sox in 1951. He is also the first black-Latino in the major leagues, breaking through with Cleveland two years earlier.

Minoso was honored on the University of Illinois campus Thursday night as part of events commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. He was part of a panel discussion on the Latino integration of baseball, part of two days of events entitled 'Pioneering Latinos: Building a Legacy On and Beyond the Playing Field.'

Minoso said he has always learned to keep a smile on his face, no matter the circumstances. He recalled working in sugar fields as a child in Cuba.

"I had to cut the sugar, clean the sugar field, and plant the sugar field, everything you do, you name it" Minoso said. "I had to get up at 3 o'clock to get ready to make $2.50 a day to find out God opened the door for me to play baseball."

Minoso was honored with an award from the U of I's Latina/Latino studies department, reading: "In recognition of the courage, spirit, and excellence demonstrated as the integration pioneer for the Chicago White Sox."

Appearing with Minoso in Thursday's panel was filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz, Chicago Cubs outfielder Fernando Perez, and moderator and U of I History Professor Adrian Burgos.

(Photo by Jeff Bossert/WILL)

Categories: Civil Rights, Sports