From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
March 9, 1965
|September 14, 1986 for
Last MLB appearance
|April 11, 2005 for
the Pittsburgh Pirates
|Runs batted in
Career highlights and awards
Benito Santiago Rivera (born March 9, 1965 in
Puerto Rico) is a former Major League Baseball catcher. He batted and threw right-handed.
Santiago was signed as an amateur free agent by the San Diego
Padres on September 1, 1982. He made his Major League debut on
September 14, 1986. The next year, he established a Major League
record for a rookie by hitting safely in 34 straight games. This
also stands today as the longest hitting streak ever by a catcher.
He won the National League's Rookie of
the Year Award unanimously that year. In his third year, he led
League catchers in passed balls, led the major league catchers
with the most errors, yet won a Gold Glove Award. Santiago was known for
his ability to throw out would be base stealers from his knees with
great efficiency. He remained with the Padres for 7 seasons before
being granted free agency in 1992.
On December 16, 1992, Santiago signed with the newly established
franchise Florida Marlins and hit the first home run in team history.
However, Florida released him after two seasons. On April 17, 1995,
signed him and he briefly recovered his form batting .286.
On January 30, 1996, he joined the Phillies, where he became the
first player to hit a grand slam off Greg Maddux in the
regular season after Maddux had been pitching for nearly ten years.
Maddux had previously surrendered one to Will Clark in the 1989 National
League Championship Series, and has only allowed two since
Santiago took him deep. Santiago also hit a home run in four
consecutive at bats in the
same season. He then went to the Blue Jays (1997-1998) where
he lost almost the entire 1998 season to a serious injury sustained
in a car crash in Florida. A
free agent again, he played 89 games for the Cubs in 1999 and
played for Cincinnati in 2000.
Resurgence with the
He arrived in San Francisco in March 17, 2001.
He shared the 2001 Willie Mac Award with Mark
Gardner, which recognized the spirit and leadership of each. He
helped lead the Giants to the world series in 2002. His
good hitting continued in the playoffs, where he was named 2002 National League
Championship Series MVP.
In December 11, 2003, Santiago, again a free agent, signed with
City Royals. By June 18, he was hitting .274 with six home runs
and 23 RBI when
he was hit by a
pitch from Geoff
Geary that broke his hand. After the 2004 season,
the Royals traded him to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Leo
Nunez, a minor league pitcher. The Pirates let Santiago go after a
mere 23 at bats in favor of giving playing time to young David Ross. Santiago signed with the New York Mets to a
minor-league contract, but he appeared in only a handful of games.
He opted out of his Triple-A contract, but did not play in the
major leagues in 2006.
With his career over, discussions arose about where he ranks
among the game's all-time catchers. His main claim to fame was his
excellent durability, which allowed him to post productive numbers
late in his career, at an age when most catchers are already
In 2003, Santiago was named by FBI investigators as
one of the athletes alleged to have received anabolic steroids. He
was linked to performance enhancers in the book Game of
On December 13, 2007, Santiago
was written about in the Mitchell Report on page 134.
"At the end of the 2003 season, Mike Murphy, a Giants clubhouse
attendant, was cleaning out Santiago’s locker when he found a
sealed package of syringes. Murphy brought the syringes to the
training room, handed them to Conte, and told Conte that he had
found them in Santiago’s locker. Conte responded that he “would
take care of it.” Murphy recalled that the Giants’ assistant
athletic trainer Dave Groeschner also was present in the training
room during this conversation."