Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen to Pay Tribute to the Late Cuban Baseball Legend Minnie Miñoso During his Visit to Cuba with President Obama

March 17, 2016
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that he will pay tribute to his friend and Cuban baseball legend Minnie Miñoso (Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta) during his trip to Cuba with President Obama on March 20-22. Miñoso, nicknamed “The Cuban Comet” and “Mr. White Sox,” played in the major leagues from 1949-1980, most prominently with the Chicago White Sox. He was the first Black Cuban in the major leagues, the first black player in Chicago White Sox history, and only the second black player to play in the American League after Larry Doby. He is also one of only two players to play in 5 different decades. Miñoso was a 9 time All-Star, a 3 time Golden Glove Winner, and a 3 time American League stolen base leader. The Chicago White Sox retired his #9 jersey in 1983. He passed away on March 1, 2015 at the age of 92.

“As a 5-year old child stricken with polio, I developed a love for Cuba when Minnie Miñoso played an exhibition baseball game in Memphis.  Minnie spotted me at the game, standing with my crutches, and he sent me a baseball via one of his white teammates. At the time, the South was racially segregated, so Minnie did not feel comfortable approaching a white child. This early lesson about civil rights has influenced my entire life and career as a public servant.  Minnie had the biggest heart on the baseball field and his kindness toward me began our lifelong friendship and engendered my fondness for Cuba and the Cuban people.   

I am so pleased to be included on the President’s visit to Cuba.  To honor my friend and hero, I will be wearing my autographed Minnie Miñoso hat at the Cuban national baseball team’s exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Havana.  Minnie’s son, Charlie, has offered to send me some additional Minnie Miñoso hats that I will share with President Obama, President Castro and other Cuban officials. When I was in Cuba for the embassy opening with Secretary Kerry last year, I presented a hat to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.

Minnie spent most of his 3-decade long baseball career with the Chicago White Sox, and they are sending along about 50 of Minnie’s #9 pins and about 100 special edition Minnie Miñoso baseball cards for me to share with Cuban officials and players during my visit.

Minnie had a great baseball career but an even better life. He was an All-Star on and off the diamond. There is no more fitting tribute I can pay than to attend a baseball game in Cuba in Minnie’s honor, and I know he will be there with me in spirit."

President Obama will be the first president to visit Cuba in 88 years after announcing in 2014 that he intended to re-establish diplomatic relations with the country. In August 2015, Congressman Cohen joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a bipartisan delegation of U.S. Senators and Representatives at the official re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba.