I was born Saturnino Orestes Minoso in 1922 in the small town of Perfico, Matanzaz, Cuba. I had two brothers and two sisters and was raised on a small ranch, where I cut sugarcane. I played baseball at the ranch from the time I was 11 or 12, managing the team and telling the older kids how to play. We would beat the city teams. I was a pitcher, played third, played center. I got the reputation for being the best player. I was "something else." When I first started playing, I had no idea that I'd be able to play anywhere but Cuba. My ambition was just to play professional ball in Cuba. That was every boy's dream on the island. I didn't know anything about the major leagues. My mother never saw me play professional ball because she died in 1941, a year or two before I quit high school and went to Havana. I played semipro ball for two years there, but since I got only pocket money, I worked as a mechanic for a Buick dealer. I'd get $60 a week. Then I played on the Marianao team in the Cuban Winter League. My father saw me play in my prime only in Cuba in winter ball.
I became one of the stars in Cuba and was signed to a contract by the New York Cubans in the Negro National League. So I came to the United States in 1946. I played third base and made the Eastern All-Star team in 1947, when the Cubans won the World Series, and in 1948, my last season in the Negro Leagues.
When Jackie Robinson signed to play in the major leagues, many players in the Negro League thought they had the opportunity also. I wanted to play in the major leagues to prove that I was one of the best ballplayers. I was invited to a tryout with the St. Louis Cardinals, along with a pitcher on the Cubans, Jose Santiago from Puerto Rico. We were so much better than anyone else there. Santiago struck out all 3 batters he faced, and they had to tell me to ease up on my throws because the first baseman wasn't able to handle anything so hard. But the Cardinals didn't really want to look at us. They sent us home. Because of our treatment by the Cardinals we didn't waste our time when another team invited us to a tryout. If they wanted to look at us, they could watch us play in the Negro Leagues.
We Played the Game
We Played the Game, Danny Peary (Editor)
Copyright 1994 by Danny Peary
Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. (New York), 2002
available at AMAZON