Hector Santiago żgoes homeż to share baseball gifts


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As part of the Players Going Home program, several hundred kids joined Hector Santiago earlier this month for an instructional clinic at the local field in Newark, N.J., where the Twins pitcher learned how to play baseball under his father’s tutelage eye not that long ago.

Santiago, 28, returns to New Jersey annually to visit friends and family and community members and to stop by Bloomfield Tech High School, where he was a star player before being selected by the White Sox in the June 2006 amateur draft.

The Players Going Home program, which is an offshoot of the $30 million Youth Development Foundation jointly administered by Major League Baseball and the Players Association, helped make this a particularly memorable offseason visit by providing a $5,000 grant that Santiago donated to 

Bloomfield Tech’s baseball program.

“I had a great relationship with my teachers here and kept in touch with them over the years. I’m where I am today is because of this place. I got the grades to go to college. They pushed me,” Santiago said. “This is where I was when I got drafted. I celebrated the day I got drafted in my carpentry shop. They announced it over the loudspeaker.

“They were a big part of my life and my baseball life. Coming back here is my way of saying ‘thank

you’ to them and giving back to that next generation of kids.”

Santiago’s uniform was retired during a ceremony at Bloomfield Tech’s auditorium that was followed by an autograph session. A short distance away, Santiago then teamed with Pro Camps to provide a two-hour clinic that was attended by hundreds of school-age kids from the vicinity.

“The money from the foundation is great. As a kid you’re always looking for something new – you want a new bat, a new glove, the latest equipment,” Santiago said. “Bringing $5,000 to this school where we can possibly get new uniforms or new equipment, it makes these kids want to go out and play. I feel like baseball brings kids together. It creates friendships that last forever and keeps kids off the street.”

The Youth Development Foundation was created in 2015 to improve the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the United States and Canada.