CForty-five years after his last at-bat, Tony Oliva enjoys feeling like a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in life.
His only regret is that he cannot share the exaltation ceremony next July with Minnie Miñoso.
The two Cubans were part of the six figures who were chosen Sunday to enter the Cooperstown museum.
“That call finally came,” Oliva said on a conference call. “As you know, I am 83 years old. Many people told me that I should have been elected 40 years ago. It is better to be alive to enter the Hall of Fame. and to be able to say hello and thank people. “
Oliva and Miñoso were chosen after the vote of two veterans committees. They will accompany Buck O’Neil, defender of black players on and off the diamonds, as well as Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, and Bud Fowler.
Oliva and Kaat, both 83 and former teammates on the Minnesota Twins, are the only two new members. still alive. Slugger Dick Allen, who died last December, came up short by one vote.
Miñoso was the first black Latin American player to play in the majors, doing so with the Chicago White Sox.
“He was our Jackie Robinson,” Oliva recalled Sunday about his compatriot and the player who broke the racial barrier in 1947. “Miñoso helped me a lot, giving me advice on the system. He was the idol for us.”