The difference a year makes. At the break for the MLB All-Star game in 2018, Carlos Santana was mid-way through his first season as a Philadelphia Philly. The slugger was not a naturalized American citizen, and his 200th career home run was still about nine months away. Santana also had yet to achieve All-Star status, and he faced a future apart from the Cleveland Indians and the city he loved.
Santana expressed the depth of emotion he held for the team, fans, and the city in a heartfelt farewell letter. In his letter, Santana praised Cleveland as his home. Citing a list of first-time milestones in his life which coincided with his time in Cleveland, Santana said directly, “All I have known is Cleveland… I fell in love with Cleveland.”
Cleveland fans are famous for their devotion to the city’s teams and players. Knowing a player appreciates the emotional outpour from fans multiplies that devotion. Doubtlessly, more than a few tears were shed at his initial departure. Santana explained that some of those tears were his.
At the time of his signing with Philadelphia, no one could have guessed how Santana’s story would reach full circle in the coming months. A three-team trade in December 2018 meant Santana would go back home to Cleveland.
So many parts of Santana’s life are different now, changed for the better since his return. In April of 2019, Carlos Santana took the oath of citizenship, proudly becoming a naturalized United States citizen. Later that same month, Santana sent a pitch from Wade Miley of the Houston Astros over the wall for his 200th career homer. Most recently, Santana received the honor of MLB All-Star selection for the first time in his career. Named the starting first baseman for the American League, Santana will participate in the annual Home Run Derby, held the night before the All-Star game.
Is there a way the circumstances surrounding Santana’s first All-Star game could get any better? Yes, if you consider that Santana will play his first game as an All-Star in the city he loves, Cleveland. It’s a perfect way to welcome home a player whose passion for his city is only exceeded by his passion for the game of baseball.