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Rafael Belliard
Shortstop
Born: October 24, 1961 (1961-10-24) (age 48)
Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 61982 for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Last MLB appearance
April 91998 for the Atlanta Braves
Career statistics
Batting average     .221
Hits     508
Sacrifice hits     58
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Rafael Leonidas Belliard Matias (born October 24, 1961, in Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic) is a former Major League Baseball shortstop. He first signed up as a pro player with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 1980. After the 1990 season, Belliard was granted his free agency, and he signed up with the Atlanta Braves in 1991. That turned out to be that team's breakout National League Champion year. Belliard is best remembered in the minds of some Atlantans for his nearly impenetrable defense at shortstop, but there was also slang word "tomahawkin", and he seemingly pioneered the Tomahawk Buzzcut.

Despite playing in 17 Major League seasons, Belliard only hit for two career big league home runs. Belliard played in 100 big league games or more only four baseball seasons in his career (in 1986, 1988, 1991, and 1992). However, among Braves fans, he was a valued middle infielder with a quick glove, a good arm, and above average bunting ability at the plate. He was also known for being the smallest player in Major League baseball during his career. His cousin, Ronnie Belliard, is now a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers team.

Rafael Belliard is now the "infield coach" for the Detroit Tigers under their manager, Jim Leyland.

Trivia

  • In addition to "Raffy," Belliard was also nicknamed the "Pac-man" for his ability to gobble up ground balls.
  • Rafael Belliard twice appeared in the National League Top 10 in sacrifices (in 1986 and 1992).
  • Belliard was a member of the Braves team which defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 1995 World Series. During the series, he executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt in Game One to score what proved to be the winning run. He also made a dazzling running catch of a Kenny Lofton pop foul in the ninth inning of game six.
  • Belliard also played for the Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican Winter Baseball League.
  • Belliard was named for the Dominican dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, with whom shares the same birthday. Also Belliard was born the year of Trujillo's assassination.
  • Belliard holds the Major League record for at bats between home runs. He came to the plate 1,869 times before hitting a home run on September 26, 1997. His first, and only other, Major League home run was hit on May 5, 1987.

External links

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