MLB Catcher Benito Santiago came from humble beginnings in Puerto Rico to be signed by the San Diego Padres in 1982 at the young age of 17. Overcoming language and cultural barriers, he rose to the major leagues in 1986 and quickly became a sensation with the Padres. Santiago was unanimously elected as the 1987 NL Rookie of the Year with a 34-game hitting streak that still stands in the leagues. Additionally, he gained the nickname “Amazing Santiago” for throwing would-be base stealers out at second base from his knees. Santiago went on to play for 19 years in the major leagues for ten different teams. Notable feats include hitting the first homerun for the Florida Marlins, being the first batter to hit a grand slam off of Greg Maddux in the regular season, and awarded the League Championship Series MVP with the San Francisco Giants. Santiago’s success with the Giants came after sustaining a serious injury in a car crash in 1998. Doctors projected that he would never play baseball again, but Santiago proved them wrong. In 2012, Santiago was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame and in 2015, he was inducted into the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame. Other awards and recognition include five-time All-Star selections, three-time Gold Glove Awards, and four-times Silver Slugger Awards. Santiago played in 1,978 games, accumulating 1,830 hits in 6,951 at bats for a .261 career batting average along with 217 home runs, 920 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .307.
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