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Minnie Minoso signs up to play with Ernie Banks

It seems ironic that the biggest White Sox star of the 'Fifties, Minnie Minoso, should die within weeks of Ernie Banks. The single digits of my life were spent in no small measure bragging on Ernie while my playmates on the near Sound Side- and even Mom's side of the family- extolled the South Siders' best player- Minoso, known as the "Cuban Comet." The Hall-of-Famer was the first African-American player in Chicago.

Ernie was known as "Mr. Cub." President Obama, a Sox fan, yesterday called Minoso "Mr. White Sox." Both were baseball pioneers and great players at a time when racial attitudes were much less enlightened than they are today.

I remember the sad episode the night the White Sox won the 2005 World Series, and Minnie tried to get into the locker room. He was refused. Incredibly, nobody recognized him.

In some ways, that's not surprising. Minoso never quite reached the celebrity status in Chicago that Banks did. But nobody who remembers Chicago baseball in that era will question his greatness.

Rest in peace, Cuban Comet!

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