Tom Weinberg says he’s “fast and furiously” completing Baseball Has Been Very, Very Good to Me, his documentary about Minnie Miñoso in hopes for a broadcast on Nov. 29. That’s the White Sox great’s 87th or 90th birthday, depending on which account you believe.
Born in Cuba, Miñoso emerged from the Negro League and after a stint with the Cleveland Indians joined the Sox in 1951, becoming the club’s first black player and going on to become Major League Baseball’s first black Latino star. He won the Golden Glove three times as a left fielder and had a career on-base percentage of .389.
Last year Miñoso was passed over for what Weinberg and other supporters feel is a long-overdue induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Weinberg says “it would be terrific” if the film helped earn Miñoso that recognition in 2014, the next time he’s likely to be eligible. “At the very least, we want to call attention to his life and career,” Weinberg says. “The realities, and experts, and Minnie speak for themselves. He belongs there.”
A successful Kickstarter campaign last May raised $20,744 in finishing funds, towards a budget Weinberg calls “a decent multiple of $20,000.” He is currently at work on final editing, graphics, music and archival material for the doc. It includes footage Weinberg has shot of Miñoso since 1976.
Weinberg first met Miñoso at spring training
Over the past 15 months, Weinberg has worked intensely on the documentary. “We interviewed not just Minnie, but family, teammates, fans, Commissioner Bud Selig, former pitcher Luis Tiant, former slugger Tony Perez, and dozens of others,” he says.
“My partner Joel Cohen (videographer/editor) and I probably have 25 or 30 hours of Minnie. Sometimes it’s a struggle to understand what he’s saying, but his honesty always comes through clearly.”
Weinberg tells the first he met Miñoso, when he was in Sarasota in 1976 filming the White Sox for a show called Inside Spring Training for Ch. 11. “It rained almost every day and the team couldn’t practice, so Minnie and I started a shuffleboard competition and filmed with the two of us playing shuffleboard.
“It was the first time I ever really talked to him on camera. He was so competitive, even in a shuffleboard game, but he was also kind and friendly.
“That’s when I first started thinking about telling his remarkable story. I had no idea it would take more than 36 years.”
A four-time Emmy winner, Weinberg has been a video activist and documentarian since the 1960s. He created Ch. 11’s Image Union and the PBS series The 90s and is also producing a new film “about a long-lost legendary city in the jungle of Honduras…an archaeological treasure hunt.”