Benito Santiago con Benito Santiago Behind the Mask: My Life of Baseball (English Edition)All-Star Catcher Benito Santiago, the man who could throw from his knees to second base to get a runner out, reveals personal and professional stories of his baseball career.
The unusual circumstances of the first few months of Benito’s life were not revealed to him until age ten. The young boy who then stood in a Puerto Rican courtroom made two choices. One was to remain with his adopted family. The other, beyond those walls, was a determination to be a professional baseball player. How closely those choices were connected may never be truly known and perhaps he was always destined to achieve his dream. Tall, lean, with long fingers and a strong throwing arm, his favored position of shortstop gave way to being a catcher. That too, came about through an unexpected situation. The 1980s was a time when more Latin players were following after the great Roberto Clemente and Benito’s talent stood out among young players. He signed with the San Diego Padres in 1982 and at age seventeen entered the Minor League system. There were times in the four years he felt as if he could not deal with language and cultural barriers he hadn’t expected. Other players were packing their bags to go home and when the call came for him to move up, the next twenty years were filled with great moments and unanticipated pitfalls. Benito, 1987 National League Rookie of the Year and five-time selectee to the All-Star Game, went on to play for nine different teams (Cincinnati twice). For two decades he thrilled crowds and in the midst of his career he suffered a devastating accident that should have ended everything. His mangled body was put to the greatest physical tests he had ever endured, but skilled help and perseverance prevailed. Scarred and working to regain his strength, one of the dreams he’d almost given up on was still waiting for him. His choices were not without certain regrets as well. In the decade that passed after his retirement in 2005, he now tells his story of the man behind the mask.