Though the late Minnie Minoso’s time as a St. Louis Cardinal is but one paragraph in a long and interesting book, it is definitely worth revisiting following the announcement of his passing on Sunday, March 1st at perhaps the age of 92.
On November 27, 1961, two days before what is suspected to be his 39th birthday, Minoso was acquired by the Cards from the Chicago White Sox in return for first baseman-outfielder Joe Cunningham.
In between his second and third stints with the Sox, Minoso went on to appear in 39 games for manager Johnny Keane's 1962 Cardinals. It would be his only time spent playing in the National League in 17 Major League seasons.
Minoso’s new teammates included Stan Musial, then 41 and in his second-to-last season. Musial ended up seeing the majority of the time in left field instead of Minoso that summer, shifting from right field in part due to a series of misfortunes suffered by the Cuban.
Minoso’s lone season with St. Louis was simply a nightmare, ruined by three separate injuries.
Perhaps partially because he was relatively unfamiliar with Busch Stadium, Minoso crashed into the unpadded green-painted concrete left-field wall while trying to chase down a pinch-hit triple off the bat of the Dodgers’ Duke Snider on May 11th. He suffered a fractured skull and broken wrist in his 12th home game with the team and 19th contest overall.
Ready to return to the lineup on July 21st, Minoso was struck by a pitch during batting practice and blurred vision ensued, but he continued to play anyway. He was hitting just .194 when first injured in May and could never pull his average above the Mendoza Line again.
In mid-August, the right-handed hitter finally established a bit of momentum with five hits in four games, including his lone home run, two RBI and three runs scored. Minoso raised his batting average 27 points in the process and seemed poised to finish the season strongly.
Then, the third and final unlucky event ended his 1962 campaign for good after just 39 games. Minoso suffered a broken bone in his forearm when he was hit by a pitch thrown by Craig Anderson of the Mets on August 19th.
Over the winter of 1962-63, 81-year-old Branch Rickey was hired out of retirement to rejoin the Cardinals as a consultant, often clashing with general manager Bing Devine. Though Rickey's suggestion that Musial should retire was ignored, further changes were ahead.
As 1963 spring training drew to its close, the Cardinals sold Minoso’s contract to the Washington Senators on April 2nd, thus officially ending the Cuban great’s stint with St. Louis at one injury-plagued season. Musial continued as the Cards' primary left fielder in 1963.
Minoso’s line with the team was .196/.271/.278/.549. He had one home run and 10 RBI in 108 plate appearances as a Cardinal.
His career was far from over, however…
To read a thorough and excellent biography of Minoso, I highly recommend the version posted on SABR’s website.
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