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Latinx Heritage Month

On this day in Latinx history: Minnie Minoso is denied chance to become first major leaguer to play in six decades

Commissioner Fay Vincent stops White Sox from activating 65-year-old

Back in the fall of 1990, old Comiskey Park, one of major league baseball’s oldest stadiums and home to the Chicago White Sox, prepared to close its gates for the last time.

To commemorate the occasion, the White Sox explored the idea of bringing back legend Minnie Minoso, the first Afro-Cuban in the majors, for one final game. The 65-year-old Minoso would have become the oldest player in major league baseball history and the first to play in six different decades.

Minoso shared the record for most decades played, five, with former Washington Senators first-base coach Nick Altrock, who drew a walk when he appeared in a game in 1931 and was 57 when he went up to pinch hit with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning on Oct. 1, 1933, The Associated Press reported.

On Sept. 21, 1990, however, MLB commissioner Fay Vincent directed the White Sox not to activate Minoso.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed, but I accept and respect the decision,” Minoso said in a statement released by Chicago. “Maybe the commissioner will let me play in the year 2000.”

Vincent cited concerns that the integrity of the game would be trampled upon by allowing Minoso to take possibly one or two at-bats. The White Sox’s Dan Pasqua had lent Minoso a bat, and Ivan Calderon was prepared to give him a glove for the momentous day.

The team wasn’t concerned about Minoso’s ability to go out for a short stretch.

“Minnie had taken batting practice and we had satisfied ourselves that he could have competed,” Chicago chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement.

Minoso, who first played in the majors in 1949, compiled 1,963 hits, 1,023 RBIs, 186 home runs and seven All-Star appearances over 17 seasons. He came out of retirement in 1976 to play against the California Angels. In that Sept. 12 game, he singled off Sid Monge. He had eight at-bats that season.

The left fielder came out of retirement again in 1980 for two more at-bats.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.