Jose Guillermo Santiago
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5'10" Weight: 175
Born: September 4, 1928, Coamo, Puerto Rico
Signed: Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent before 1949 season
Major League Teams: Cleveland Indians 1954-1955; Kansas City Athletics 1956
Died: October 9, 2018, San Juan, Puerto Rico (age 90)
A 13-year professional player, Jose Santiago had pitched for two seasons with the New York Cubans in the Negro League before the Indians signed him before the 1948 season. He was one of the best pitchers in Cleveland's minor league system for five seasons between 1949 and 1953, compiling a record of 77-47 to go along with a 2.93 ERA. However, given the Indians' existing starting pitching of Bob Feller (#200), Mike Garcia (#210), Early Wynn (#187) and Bob Lemon (#255), it wasn't easy for Santiago, let alone any other pitcher, to earn a spot in the rotation. After appearing in just one game in 1954, Santiago was added to the bullpen in 1955 where he appeared in 17 games, going 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA. He was sold to the Athletics in May 1956, appearing in nine games. Santiago would continue to play minor league baseball through the 1959 season within the Reds, Orioles and Cubs systems before retiring.
Following his playing career, Santiago remained active in baseball as he was a one-time owner of the Caguas Criollos of the Puerto Rico Winter League. As a businessman, Santiago was known as a boxing promoter and owner of a horse stable whose horses were successful in winning a number of races.
Building the Set
Summer of 1983 or 1984 in Millville, NJ - Card #4
This Santiago card was one of the Original 44, and I've relayed the story of how my Dad and I began collecting the 1956 Topps set a few times - most recently with the Pedro Ramos (#49) post here.
This is the first and last mainstream baseball card issued for Santiago, and it's fitting that the back of his card pays tribute to his excellent minor league career in the first two panels. It looks as if he added his middle initial "G" to his signature as an afterthought. If the player standing behind Santiago is wearing #8, and it's hard to tell the uniform number, it's most likely infielder Kenny Kuhn who appeared in 4 games for the Indians in 1955 as an 18-year old.
His few other baseball card appearances are limited to oddball issuances, including a card in the 1956 Kansas City Livestock Night postcard set, a 1972 sticker in the Puerto Rico Winter League set and a few cards in the 1975 TCMA set celebrating the 1954 Indians team. Santiago signed a few hundred copies of his reprinted 1956 Topps card for inclusion in the 2005 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs insert set.
Sold to the Athletics on May 16th, Santiago made nine appearances (including five starts) with the club between the end of May and mid-July. He didn't fare very well, going 1-2 with an 8.31 ERA over 21 2/3 innings pitched. Demoted to the minors, Santiago appeared in 11 games for the Triple-A Columbus Jets.
First Mainstream Card: 1956 Topps #59
First Topps Card: 1956 Topps #59
Last Topps Card: 1956 Topps #59
Most Recent Mainstream Card: 2005 Topps Heritage Real One Autographs #RO-JSA
6 - Santiago non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 8/2/19.
The Trading Card Database
In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year. Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.