Former Indians outfielder Minnie Minoso has died at the age of 89.
Minoso is best known for his time with the White Sox, and the fact that he played (albeit strictly as a gimmick) in five different decades. His career began in Cleveland, however, and is one of the biggest “what-ifs” in franchise history.
The Tribe signed Minoso as an amatuer free agent out of Cuba in 1948 and he appeared in a handful of games during the 1949 and ’51 seasons. Early in the 1951 season, however, the Tribe shipped Minoso to the White Sox in a three-way deal which brought Lou Brissie, a former All-Star starting pitcher, to the Tribe from Kansas City.
Brissie was just 27 years old, but would go on to start just five games for the Tribe. They moved him to the bullpen and he was out of baseball by the end of the 1953 season.
Minoso, on the other hand, would go on to bat .324 and make the All-Star team during that ’51 season, finishing fourth in the MVP voting as a rookie. During his initial stint in Chicago, Minoso would make five All-Star teams.
It’s scary to think what the 1954 Indians would have been with Minoso in the outfield (he hit .320 that year and led the league in total bases) instead of journeyman Dave Philley, who was their primary right fielder instead.
But Minoso’s impact on the Tribe’s downfall would extend beyond that ill-fated 1951 trade.
Two years later Wynn won the Cy Young in Chicago, and appeared in three All-Star games. Smith hit 85 home runs during his stint in Chicago, making the 1960 All-Star team. All while Minoso gave the Tribe just two seasons, before being traded back to the White Sox.