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Tito Rigoberto Fuentes Tito Rigoberto Fuentes Associated Press

Rigoberto "Tito" Fuentes Peat (born January 4, 1944) is a retired professional baseball player. He played for 13 seasons in the major leagues between 1965 and 1978, primarily as a second baseman. Fuentes played for most of his career with the San Francisco Giants, where he still remains a fan favorite.

The Giants initially signed Fuentes as an 18-year-old amateur before the start of the 1962 season. He was one of the last baseball players signed directly out of Cuba before the United States embargo against Cuba.

Originally debuting in the majors 1965 as a late-season call-up, Fuentes split time between second base and shortstop as a rookie in 1966. He batted .261 in his maiden year while playing solid defense at both positions.[1] He slumped to batting .209 the following year, and subsequently, he spent all of 1968 in the minor leagues.

Fuentes returned to the Giants in 1969 and spent the next two seasons as a utility infielder before re-gaining his starting spot at second base in 1971. He appeared in the postseason during the 1971 season as his Giants won the NL West title; his two-run home run in Game 1 of the 1971 NLCS helped San Francisco take an early series lead against the Pittsburgh Pirates,[2] but that would turn out to be the Giants' only win of the best-of-five series.

Tito Fuentes 23Fuentes continued to be the Giants' second baseman for three more seasons. In 1973, he set a National League record by recording a .993 fielding percentage, the highest for any regular second baseman in league history.[3] Ironically, Fuentes had led all National League second basemen in errors during the previous two seasons before setting the new record for excellence. His record stood for 13 seasons before Ryne Sandberg recorded a .994 percentage at second in 1986.

After the 1974 season, San Francisco traded Fuentes and a future Rookie of the Year, Butch Metzger, to the San Diego Padres for another second baseman, Derrel Thomas. Tito played for two seasons in San Diego before leaving as a free agent.

In 1977, Fuentes played with the Detroit Tigers and had a career-best .309 batting average. Despite having his best season, he was not brought back in 1978 (since the Tigers had a young Lou Whitaker waiting in the wings). The Montreal Expos then purchased his contract. Before the start of the season, however, Fuentes was released. During the year, he signed with the Oakland Athletics, but he was released again after batting just .140 in only 13 games. He played for the Santo Domingo Azucareros in the short-lived Inter-American League in 1979 before retiring.

Tito Fuentes returns to the Giants' Spanish language broadcast booth for his 10th straight season. Fuentes previously served as a member of the Spanish language broadcast team from 1981-92, and in 1996-2004 he broadcast for FOX Sports International which is aired in Latin America. An active participant in the Giants' marketing efforts, he is a regular participant in the Giants Fantasy Camp and Giants Cruise. A former Major League second baseman who played for the Giants from 1965- 74, Fuentes saw big league action with San Diego, Detroit and Oakland. The Havana, Cuba native was initially signed as an 18-year-old amateur before the start of the 1962 season and was the last baseball player signed directly out of Cuba before the United States embargo against Cuba. A .268 hitter over his 13-year career, he was voted the starting second baseman on the Dream Team for the Giants 25th Anniversary team by San Francisco fans in 1982.

In 1997, "23" was inducted into the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Maritza, reside in Reno, Nevada.

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