Midlothian baseball icon Howie Minas dies at 82
By Pat Disabato email@example.com July 24, 2012 9:40PM
Updated: August 26, 2012 6:16AM
Howie Minas will be remembered as many things: A family man, skilled cement finisher and proprietor of Howie’s Sports Shop, among them.
But Minas, who died July 18 at age 82, will be remembered most as the architect of his beloved Midlothian White Sox semi-pro baseball team, and the field at 144th Street and Homan Avenue that bears his name. In fact, he was buried in his Midlothian White Sox uniform.
“He defined the Midlo White Sox,” said Kirk Vucsko, who played for Minas from 1985 to 1992. “He gave everything to that team and that field. It was a family member to him.”
Over a 40-year run that began in the 1960s, Minas built the Midlothian White Sox into one of the most feared and respected teams in the country. The roster was filled with top local players who had just completed their professional and college careers.
The White Sox played Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with doubleheaders every Saturday and sometimes Sunday.
Minas spent countless hours maintaining the field, which was regarded as one of the finest in the Midwest.
“It was pristine,” said Joe Lorenz, who played for the White Sox from 1980 to ’90. “You couldn’t take infield on it or batting practice. He had a passion for baseball that was just unbelievable.”
That passion resulted in summers filled with dominance on the diamond. In approximately 40 years of coaching, Minas racked up a mark of 2,650 wins and 530 losses.
The pinnacle of his coaching career occurred in 1992, when the team won the National Baseball Congress Championship in Wichita, Kan. The annual tournament plays host to elite summer teams throughout the country.
The White Sox had come close to winning the title a handful of times, including a second-place finish in 1988.
“We just steam rolled everybody (in 1992),” Vucsko said. “Howie cried tears of joy.”
Minas, with his flat-top haircut and gruff but playful demeanor, was a popular figure in Wichita.
“Howie could have run for mayor in Wichita,” Lorenz said. “They loved him down there.”
In 1996, Minas was inducted into the NBC Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, Satchel Paige, Barry Bonds, Tony Gwynn and Billy Martin.
Minas’ sports shop on 147th Street in Midlothian was a popular destination for local athletes. From baseball gloves and bats to basketballs to hockey equipment, Howie’s Sports Shop had it.
“He had his own way of doing things,” Vucsko said. “But he certainly left his mark.”
Minas spent considerable time at Standard Bank Stadium in his latter years, cheering on the Windy City ThunderBolts.
“I knew Howie for nine years and he was a staple at Standard Bank Stadium,” ThunderBolts general manager Mike Lucas said. “We definitely lost a good one. We was a genuine person who was very knowledgeable about the game of baseball. The community’s going to miss him.”
Minas is survived by his wife, Betty, sons, Howie Jr. and Terry, and daughter, Lynette.
Services were held Sunday. Minas was laid to rest Monday at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.
“He lived his dream life,” Howie Jr. said. “He was a great father and a great baseball man and a legend around here. He put Midlothian on the map.”