Miñoso’s all-around excellence on display in six-RBI game

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Janey Murray

It only took six pitches for the fans at Briggs Stadium to see Minnie Miñoso’s power on full display on April 21, 1959.

Miñoso and his Cleveland Indians were in town taking on the Tigers and wasted no time getting to Detroit starter Paul Foytack in the top of the first. After center fielder Jim Piersall and first baseman Vic Power both reached on singles to lead off the game, Miñoso stepped to the plate and promptly launched a ball into the left field seats, putting Cleveland ahead 3-0.

It was just the beginning of an explosive day at the plate for Miñoso, who ultimately went 5-for-6 with six RBI in Cleveland’s 14-1 victory over Detroit.

Foytack would see only three more batters after Miñoso. Though he recorded the first two outs of the inning on a pair of pop flies after Miñoso’s blast, a subsequent walk and then a two-run homer by shortstop George Strickland put the Tigers in an even bigger hole, and Foytack was lifted from the game before he could escape the first.

Detroit kept making pitching changes to try to combat Cleveland’s potent offense – but no one seemed able to solve Miñoso.

After flying out in the top of the third, the future Hall of Famer singled in the fourth. He came to bat with a runner on in the sixth and slugged his second homer of the day, extending the Indians lead to 8-0. He singled with the bases empty in the seventh, then capped his day off with an RBI single in the ninth, driving in Cleveland’s 14th and final run of the game.

All told, the Tigers sent six different pitchers to the mound in their losing effort. Miñoso recorded a hit against four of them.

“You’ll have to excuse manager Joe Gordon, the ex-Yankee great, if he’s confused because nobody told him his Indians would remind him of the old ‘Murderer’s Row’ teams for which he played,” Fred Down wrote for United Press International. “For that’s exactly what they’re doing with seven victories in eight games and a whopping average of 6.6 runs scored per game.”

Meanwhile, Cleveland starter Cal McLish cruised through the contest, tossing a complete game six-hitter and allowing just one run while striking out six.

Miñoso was in his second stint with Cleveland at the time, having been traded to the club in December 1957 in exchange for Hall of Famer Early Wynn. He had previously played for the Indians for parts of the 1949 and 1951 seasons, then spent seven years with the White Sox.

He would put together a prosperous 1959 campaign, batting .302 with 21 homers, 92 RBI and an .846 OPS while capturing a Gold Glove Award and earning spots in both of that season’s All-Star Games. The Indians, meanwhile, finished second in the American League standings to the White Sox.

Following the 1959 season, Miñoso was dealt back to Chicago. He would remain in the big leagues as a regular player until 1964, then later returned for brief stints with the White Sox in 1976 and 1980 after finding success in the Mexican League while he was well past the age of 40.

Miñoso was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2022.

Janey Murray is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series