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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Charlie Santos-Buch

Revolutionary in Centerfield

By Mark H. Doctoroff

When we were kids, our favorite books were about a guy named Chip Hilton. We took it for granted that Chip never really existed. In high school, Chip was a star in three sports: football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring. In college, it was more of the same. But, of course, Chip Hilton was a fictional character. Right?

Don't be so sure. Crimson baseball captain Charlie Santos-Buch has some very Chip Hiltonesque characteristics.

From the beginning, since Little League in a suburb of Atlanta, Charlie Santos-Buch has been a winner. Sure, he's got a lot of natural athletic ability. He has enough ability to have garnered all-state honors on the parallel bars at a Darien, Conn., junior high and to have excelled in several sports through high school.

After transferring from Darien High School to the Taft School, which Santos-Buch calls a big turning point in his life, he almost immediately stepped into starring roles in three sports, playing safety and halfback in football, point guard on the hardcourt, and shortstop and second on the diamond. He soon was elected captain of the Taft baseball squad, and in his senior year broke most of the school baseball records.

At Harvard he started out as a halfback on the freshman squad for the first two weeks, but then, because he didn't really have the size to play in the offensive backfield, switched to right cornerback and quickly grabbed a starting position. In the spring of freshman year he started in the Crimson outfield.

Sophomore year, he moved up to the varsity football squad. He continued with the Crimson gridders through his junior year but then decided to drop football to concentrate on baseball senior year.

That choice was made with good reason. By his sophomore year he was an All-Ivy outfielder, a laurel which he garnered again last year. His Harvard baseball career reached a high point last season with his election as captain. Coach Alan Nahigian lauds the team's choice, calling Santos-Buch "a leader without peer."

Santos-Buch himself is the first to admit that all of his success does not derive from pure athletic ability. His self-perception always comes back to one characteristic--determination. Referring specifically to football, he says a little ruefully, "I had to be determined and aggressive and put out 180 per cent or get my head knocked off."

Intensity

This characteristic is easily evident to anyone who knows him well, and roommate and Crimson pitcher Ron Stewart calls him "one of the most intense people I know." Nahigian concurs, calling that trait Santos-Buch's greatest asset. However, "Charlie's a little too intense at times," Nahigian adds. Stewart sums up this aspect of his teammate's personality well. "Charlie," he says, "lives like he's taken the Evelyn Wood speed living course."

It is that intensity that has gone a long way toward making him a successful captain. Nahigian observes that "his attitude permeates the entire squad" and adds that the evident "togetherness [on the squad] is Charlie's contribution."

Teammate Rick Pearce says Santos-Buch's becoming captain can be attributed not only to his athletic ability, but also to his skill in relating to people. In other words, Santos-Buch's ability is by no means one-sided--it is not only athletic.

Santos-Buch is the epitome of the scholar-athlete, and the scholar part of that term translates that he is a History concentrator with a definite shot at magna cum laude. Right now, he spends almost as much time studying for generals as he spends playing baseball. He spent the past several months in intense preparation of an honor's thesis, the subject of which is very close to his heart. Ostensibly a thesis on Cuban history, it is far more than that. It is a testimony to the revolutionary tradition of the Santos-Buch family.

On With the Revolution

The thesis is about his grandfather's role in the Cuban revolution. Santos-Buch takes evident pride in his work, but more importantly, in what it represents. He points to the topic of his thesis in explaining his Latin temperament. "I think at heart I'm a revolutionary," he says, adding, "It's in the blood." Chip Hilton was never like this.

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