Rafael Francisco Santana de la Cruz (born January 31, 1958, in La Romana, Dominican Republic) was the general manager for the 2007 Birmingham Barons. Santana currently works in scouting and development for the Chicago White Sox in the Dominican Republic. He is a former Major League shortstop who played for the St Louis Cardinals (1983), New York Mets (1984-1987), New York Yankees (1988), and Cleveland Indians (1990). Santana is best known for being a member of the 1986 World Series championship Mets.
Originally signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1976, Santana spent several years in their farm system before being traded to the Cardinals on February 16, 1981, in exchange for pitcher George Frazier. He earned his first call-up with the Cardinals in 1983, playing shortstop, and second and third base. In 30 games, Santana had only 3 hits in 14 at-bats for a .214 batting average to go along with 2 RBIs. On January 17, 1984, he was released by the Cardinals and signed that same day with the Mets. During the 1984 season, he played 51 games for the Mets, hitting a career-best .271 with a home run and 12 RBIs as the primary back-up for starting shortstop Jose Oquendo.
After the Mets traded Oquendo to the Cardinals in the offseason, Santana became the regular Mets shortstop for 1985, a position he held for the next 3 seasons. During the 1986 regular season, he hit just .218 with a home run and 28 RBI, but tied for tenth in the National League in intentional walks with 12. Santana started all 13 games for the Mets during the 1986 playoffs, and established an NLCS record for most putouts (13), assists (18) and chances accepted (31) by a shortstop in a six-game series against the Houston Astros.
After the 1987 campaign where he set career-highs in home runs (5) and RBIs (44) with the Mets, Santana was traded to the cross-town Yankees. In 1988 he hit .240 with 4 home runs and 38 RBIs and grounded into 17 double plays, tying him for 10th in the American League. After missing the entire 1989 season with an elbow injury, Santana was released on November 7 of that year.
In January 1990, Santana signed with the Cleveland Indians, where he played 7 games and was reunited with 1986 Mets teammates Keith Hernandez, Jesse Orosco, and Stan Jefferson. After being released on April 25 of that year, he retired from the big leagues at the age of 32. During his career, Santana played seven seasons and compiled a lifetime .246 average with 13 home runs and 156 RBI in 668 games.
After his playing career, Santana made the move into coaching. He started by managing Azucareros del Este of the Dominican Winter League in 1992-93 and spent four seasons as a coach in the Kansas City Royals farm system at Baseball City, Wilmington, Eugene, and Springfield (all Class A). Beginning in 1996, Santana worked three seasons in the Boston Red Sox organization, overseeing the Red Sox Dominican program in 1996 before serving as a roving infield instructor and hitting coach at Class A Lowell in 1997 and 1998 before moving on to the White Sox.
He spent four seasons as the Sox's minor league infield instructor before being promoted to the major league club in the same capacity while also serving as their first base coach for two seasons. Santana returned to his previous position as roving infield instructor in 2005. On January 1, 2006, Rafael Santana was named manager of the Winston-Salem Warthogs, his first managerial job in the United States. Just over a year later, the Birmingham Barons announced that he would take over as manager, replacing Chris Chron. In October, 2007 the Barons announced that Santana would not return.
He is a member of the Mets Alumni Association and along with past Mets players, still makes personal appearances on behalf of the team. On August 19, 2006, Santana attended a 20th Anniversary Reunion of the 1986 Mets World Series Championship Team at Shea Stadium prior to that night's game between the Mets and the Colorado Rockies.
Santana and his wife, Gloria, have three children: Audry, Alexander, and Dhayan.
|Birmingham Barons manager
- "Rafael Santana." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16 May 2007, 23:23 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 16 May 2007 .
- "Barons manager not returning." (October 3, 2007) Birmingham News.
- Baseball-Reference.com - career statistics and analysis