May 18, 2015

Former New Jersey Born Italian /American Pitcher: Al Santorini (1968-1973)

Alan Joel Santorini was born May 19, 1948 in Irvington, New Jersey. Santorini attended Union high school starring in baseball by the mid sixties. He had gone 50-1 at the junior high & high school levels.

There was rumors that he would be the Mets number one draft pick but that all changed when Casey Stengle attended a game in his native Glendale, California. Stengel watched a young catcher named Steve Chilcott hit three HRs & the Mets went with him. The six foot right handed Santorini, was instead the Atlanta Braves first round pick of the 1966 draft, the eleventh pick overall.

On September 10th 1968 he made his MLB debut in a game against the San Francisco Giants. He was greeted with a two run HR by Willie McCovey taking a loss allowing three runs in three innings pitched. It was his only appearance that season. That winter he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the expansion draft making him an original Padre.

He got his first MLB win on April 18th 1969 at Candlestick Park, beating the San Francisco Giants 3-1. Overall he went 8-14 on the year, tying Joe Niekro for most wins on the staff in that inaugural Padre season. He struck out 111 batters (also second on the staff) posting a 3.95 ERA, with twelve wild pitches (sixth most in the league).

In 1970 he struggled, falling to 1-8 with a 6.07 ERA, getting sent back to the minors. In May of 1971 he got to start both games of a double header against the Houston Astros. He only pitched to one batter a righty, in the first game, and then gave the ball to Dave Roberts who faced seven consecutive left handed batters in the lineup.

In the second game, manager Preston Gomez, started Santorini again, this time he went six solid innings but allowed two runs, as the Padres lost both games of the twin bill. He was 0-2 in June and then got traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Fred Norman & Leron Lee.

By 1972 Santorini was back as a starting pitcher, going 8-11 with three shutouts posting a 4.11 ERA for the Cardinals. In 1973 he appeared in just six games before finishing up his big league career.

In six seasons he went 17-38 with three saves, striking out 268 batters while walking 194 & posting a 4.09 ERA. At the plate he was a career .109 hitter.

Retirement: After baseball, he was a real estate agent, painter & carpenter.

Trivia:  His 1971 Topps card has him warming up at Shea Stadium.

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