POLITICS
03/01/2015 03:40 pm ET Updated Mar 02, 2015

Obama: Minnie Minoso Had A 'Quintessentially American Story'

David Banks via Getty Images

President Barack Obama on Sunday commemorated the life of Minnie Minoso, the first black major league baseball player in Chicago. Minoso's death was announced earlier in the day by the Cook County medical examiner.

In a statement, Obama praised Minoso for the role he played in integrating the major leagues.

Read Obama's full statement below:

For South Siders and Sox fans all across the country, including me, Minnie Minoso is and will always be "Mr. White Sox."

The first black Major Leaguer in Chicago, Minnie came to the United States from Cuba even though he could have made more money elsewhere. He came up through the Negro Leagues, and didn't speak much English at first. And as he helped to integrate baseball in the 1950s, he was a target of racial slurs from fans and opponents, sometimes forced to stay in different motels from his teammates. But his speed, his power -- and his resilient optimism -- earned him multiple All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves in left field, and he became one of the most dominant and dynamic players of the 1950s.

Minnie may have been passed over by the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, but for me and for generations of black and Latino young people, Minnie's quintessentially American story embodies far more than a plaque ever could.

Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and fans in Chicago, Cleveland, and around the world.

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