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Minnie Miñoso’s family sheds ‘tears of joy,’ just as elected Hall of Famer would have

“We just wish Dad were here to enjoy it,” Miñoso’s son said.

“I know Minnie would have cried,’’ Sharon Rice-Miñoso said of her late husband being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. ‘‘He was a sentimental guy.’’
“I know Minnie would have cried,’’ Sharon Rice-Miñoso said of her late husband being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. ‘‘He was a sentimental guy.’’
Nam Y. Huh/AP

The overriding theme and sentiment from Charlie Miñoso and Sharon Rice-Miñoso, newly elected Hall of Famer Minnie Miñoso’s son and widow, is “bittersweet.”

So sweet because Minnie, the “Cuban Comet” also known as “Mr. White Sox,” was awarded entry by the Golden Days Era committee on Sunday. Yet sad knowing the unassuming star outfielder and third baseman who played 12 of his 17 major-league seasons with the Sox, died in 2015 without enjoying the experience of receiving the phone call Charlie and Sharon took on his behalf Sunday night.

“I know Minnie would have cried,’’ Sharon said. ‘‘He was a sentimental guy.’’

Many who knew of Miñoso’s career or knew him personally got emotional Sunday night. His son and wife certainly did.

“It means a great deal,” Charlie said. “We just wish that Dad were here to enjoy it.”

If Miñoso, a seven-time American League All-Star between 1951 and 1960 and baseball’s first Black Latino, felt slighted about not getting voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America while he was alive, he didn’t show it.

“Truthfully, he took it very well,” Sharon said. “He was so close a number of times. It was kind of like, ‘Well, they must not have thought it was my turn.’ Which was very admirable of him. He never had bad feelings. He never felt he was shorted.”

Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, fellow Cuban Tony Oliva, Buck O’Neil and Bud Fowler also were named, the latter two by the Early Baseball Era committee. This was the first time Miñoso, O’Neil and Fowler had a chance to make the Hall under new rules honoring Negro League contributions.

The statistics of more than 3,000 players were added to baseball’s record books last December, the sport saying it was “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history.” Miñoso was a two-time Negro League All-Star.

Miñoso’s family was cautiously optimistic he’d get the 12 necessary votes on 16 ballots from the Golden Days Era committee members.

“However, this time was just a bit different because it was the first time to go through the motions without him,” Charlie said. “So we’re still trying to process exactly what this means and how we can honor Dad in this way with him not being physically with us.

“He’s still present. Just in a different form.”

And sharing tears.

“As Charlie and I did, tears of joy,” Sharon said.