Pittsburgh Pirates: Forgotten Opening Day Starters

Pittsburgh Pirates v Brooklyn Dodgers
Pittsburgh Pirates v Brooklyn Dodgers / Kidwiler Collection/GettyImages
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Benito Santiago

Benito Santiago is best known for the seven seasons he spent with the San Diego Padres. During his time with the Friars, Santiago batted .264/.298/.406 with a 94 wRC+, collecting four Silver Slugger awards, three Gold Gloves, and going to four straight all-star games from 1989 through 1991. Santiago was one of baseball’s best defensive catchers in this time, racking up +9.2 defensive WAR in this span. But his last few games were spent with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Santiago was the Pirates’ 2005 Opening Day catcher at 40 years old. The backstop went 2-for-4 that day with a triple. Despite starting his Pirates tenure out with a five game hit streak, Santiago would only suit up for six total games. He missed time and was released in May, closing out his major league career. Santiago would sign with the New York Mets in June of that season, but was released about a month later in July.

The Pirates were one of the many teams that Santiago played with during his Major League career. Aside from the Padres and Bucs, Santiago also suited up for the Florida Marlins, Cincinnati Reds (two stints), Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and Kansas City Royals. In total, he played in 20 seasons. Santiago’s 2005 was short lived, but is one of the more memorable players in recent baseball history to make a brief cameo with the Pirates.