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Tito Fuentes – 1973 Topps #236

Rigoberto “Tito” Fuentes Peat(born January 4, 1944 in Havana, Cuba) is a retired second baseman who played for 13 seasons in the Major Leagues between 1965 and 1978. 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. 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. 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, but that would turn out to be the Giants’ only win of the best-of-five series. 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. 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 retired shortly afterward.

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