GLENDALE, Ariz. — Minnie Minoso was beloved and revered. He was the first black player for the White Sox, and he blazed a trail for Latin American players in the major leagues starting in the 1950s.

And yes, he could play the game of baseball a little bit, too.

The legend known as the “Cuban Comet” and “Mr. White Sox” passed away Sunday morning. He was 90.

“Our organization and our city have suffered a heart-breaking loss today,” White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “We have lost our dear friend and a great man. Many tears are falling.”

The popular outfielder was born in Cuba and played 17 seasons in the majors. He became the first black player in White Sox history on May 1, 1951, and despite having credentials many experts say are worthy, was denied entry into the Hall of Fame last year.Minoso, who lived in the 3700 block of North Lake Shore Drive, was discovered in the driver’s seat of his vehicle in the 2800 block of North Ashland, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He was pronounced dead at 1:09 a.m. An autopsy found Minoso died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and his death was ruled natural, according to the medical examiner’s office.

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Minoso loved life, loved the Sox and was a regular — often accompanied by his dog — at U.S. Cellular Field almost on a daily basis. Condolences and statements poured in from as far away as the White House and as close as the Cubs – who lost “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks in December – on the other side of town.

“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,” President Obama said in a statement.

Minoso was denied entry into the Hall of Fame in December, failing to receive the necessary votes from the 16-member Golden Era Committee. He received eight of the 12 votes needed. He played for the Sox from 1951-57, ’60-61, ’64, and briefly as a player-coach in ’76 and ’80. He received nine of the 12 votes needed when the Golden Era Committee, which replaced the former Veterans Committee elect candidates not eligible by the Baseball Writers Association of America, first met in 2011. The committee meets and votes every three years.

A seven-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner over his 17-year career, Minoso batted .298 with a .389 on-base percentage, 186 homers, 1,023 RBI and 205 stolen bases. Over a 10-year period beginning in 1951, he finished in the top 10 in average eight times, the top 10 in steals nine times and the top 10 in RBI five times.

Minoso’s White Sox uniform number 9 was retired in 1983, and his statue was unveiled at U.S. Cellular Field in 2004. He made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in in 1949 and was acquired by Sox general manager Frank Lane in a three-team trade two years later. In his first game with the Sox on May 1, 1951, he homered against the Yankees’ Vic Raschi in his first at-bat.

“With the passing of Minnie Minoso, the City of Chicago has lost a legend on and off the field,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

Minoso leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Sharon, sons Orestes Jr. and Charlie, and daughters Marilyn and Cecilia, according to a statement from the Chicago White Sox.

Funeral arrangements are still being determined, according to the team.

Source: Chicago SunTimes