Sadly, the 2015 baseball season will begin with sadness on both sides of Chicago.
In January, Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks passed away. And on March 1, White Sox icon Minnie Minoso became the second Chicago baseball pioneer to pass away this year.
Born in Cuba in 1925, Minoso broke barriers and won fans like no Latin player had before. Like Banks, Minoso spent time in the Negro Leagues before finally breaking into Major League Baseball with the Cleveland Indians in 1949. He was traded to Chicago in 1951 and spent the next 13 years with the White Sox, winning three Gold Glove awards.
Minoso was runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1951 even though the winner, Gil McDougal of the Yankees, didn't have statistics on par with Minoso. He also led the league in being hit by a pitch ten times in his career.
He was one of the best outfielders in the game in the 1950s, and his number 9 was retired by the White Sox in 1983 to recognize his career.
However, like Banks, Minoso's impact off the field dwarfs his accomplishments with the bat in his hands. In his autobiography, Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda said "Minoso is to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black ballplayers."
Even though he retired in 1964, Minoso remained an a fixture in the baseball community for decades. He is one of two players in history to play in five different decades, and was always accessible to fans and players. He has not yet found a home in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he opened doors for hundreds of Latin players to achieve their dreams.