The Four Laws of Minnie Minoso
This Valentine’s Day, if you’re seeking a sweet role model for your Law Life, look no further than Minnie Minoso.
Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso – better known by baseball fans as “Mr. White Sox” or “The Cuban Comet” or just Minnie – was not only a wonder on the ballfield. He was also a trailblazer: the first black big-leaguer in the city of Chicago, the first Afro-Latino to make the majors, a hero from Havana to Highland Park, a force of nature who played professionally in a mind-boggling seven decades.
And so my heart soared when I heard Minnie Minoso had at long last been inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
This marvelous news capped an MLB season full of marvels: the jaw-dropping exploits of Shohei Ohtani, the rise of second-generation stars Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the triumph of the Atlanta Braves – written off for dead in July only to rise phoenix-like to win it all in October, proving it ain’t over until it’s over, especially if you’re wearing pearls.
The icing on the cake – the walk-off homer, if you will – was when the doors of the hallowed Hall swung open to welcome Mr. Minoso to the ranks of the immortals.
For us mortals, his story is a template for a terrific Law Life.
Minoso Law #1: Show Up – And Keep Showing Up
Minnie Minoso first began showing up on the baseball diamond as a young boy from the sugarcane fields of Havana. He continued showing up for the rest of his life.
Although he officially retired in the 1960s, he returned every 10 years or so for cameo appearances up until 2003, when he suited up for one last at-bat with the minor-league St. Paul Saints at the spry age of 77. (He drew a walk.)
Comet Commentary: Sure, the later appearances were mostly publicity stunts. But consider: the average MLB career is less than six years, and one in five big leaguers don’t make it past their rookie season. By contrast, Mr. White Sox was still lacing on his spikes at an age when most of us have trouble finding the TV remote, much less finding our way to first base.
Minoso Law #2: Attitude is Everything
It wasn’t just longevity that made Minnie special. Nor was it his rare combination of speed, slugging and savvy.
Minnie had the magic. People were drawn to him. They felt better – and his teammates played better – in his presence.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Minnie once when I was in high school and I was absolutely star struck,” writes Daniel Shapiro, director of the documentary film The Cuban Comet. “We talked for half an hour about his career, about how he was one of the reasons my dad grew up a Sox fan in a family that bled Cubbie blue and how special the White Sox winning the World Series in 2005 was for all of us. As we left, he told us we were now a part of his family.”
Comet Commentary: Good social skills are one thing. Being able to connect with others so they feel like extended family is next-level.
Minoso Law #3: There are Different Ways to Reach First Base
One of Minnie’s many baseball accomplishments was a remarkable proclivity for getting hit by pitches. He was struck by fastballs, curveballs, changeups and sliders a painful 195 times in his career, usually leading the league in that category.
This was not accidental. Minnie crowded the plate and leaned into pitches, not away from them, almost daring pitchers to plunk him. Which they often obligingly did.
Comet Commentary: It’s called baseball, not batball or homerball. The object is to round the bases in sequence and reach home. This route always begins at first, no matter how you get there.
Minoso Law #4: Honor Those Who Came Before and Cleared the Way
One can only imagine the challenges faced by a young, black, Spanish-speaking immigrant playing a sport that was almost completely white in a big city 1,300 miles from home.
And yet Mr. White Sox smashed through barriers of race, ethnicity and age with uncommon grace, courage and compassion.
Comet Commentary: It’s easy to celebrate trailblazers. We put their picture on postage stamps, write songs about them, and give them holidays. Much harder to emulate them by blazing our own trails through the deep woods of prejudice, ignorance and false assumptions.
But chop on. The path to glory lies ahead, not behind. And who knows? If you’re still chopping at age 77, you might even make the Hall of Fame.
Jay Reeves practiced law for nearly four decades and has loved baseball – and Minnie Minoso – for nearly seven. He prefers not getting hit by thrown objects. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World and runs Your Law Life LLC. He is available for talks, in-house Zoom sessions, and confidential consultations on anything from the Cuban Comet to communicating with clients. PS: Opening day is March 31.
About the Author
Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina and is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He runs Your Law Life LLC, which helps lawyers and firms improve their well-being and create saner, more successful law lives. He is available for talks, presentations and confidential consultations.Read More by Jay >