Ron Santo- A Tribute to a Hall Famer

 Congratulations to Ron Santo for his induction to Baseballs Hall of Fame.......hes finally made it!

The last Sunday in July was a triumphant day for the Santo family. Vickie Santo made one of the most poignant and moving speeches I have ever heard. Amid all the cheering Cubs fans and ex-players it was great to watch.

 Heres an interesting video about the Hall of Fame I found on YouTube.

 Classic Ron and Pat.........need I say more? Just enjoy!

 Heres me with the Ron Santo statue, June 2012

Me with the Ron Santo Statue 2012

 I came across this interesting commercial from 1969 though I dont really remember it.

One Year Later

 Its been almost a year now since the passing of Cubs icon Ron Santo and I thought it would be a good time to put into perspective my feelings about him. I should mention at this point that Ronnie was not my favorite Cub player growing up. Glenn Beckert was my favorite, mostly because everybody rooted for the big 3(Banks, Williams and Santo) and I guess I was always drawn to the underdog and because I liked the way Beck played the game. Indeed, my earliest impressions of Santo were colored by my father, who absolutely couldnt stand Santo. Im not sure why, my dad was as knowledgable about baseball as anybody. Perhaps he didnt like Ronnie because of the Don Young incident. I do remember that Santo was a hated man because of that, though I think most Cubs fans did eventually forgive him. But I can still hear my dad calling him "Pizza Gut", presumably because of the Ron Santo pizzas they used to sell at Wrigley Field, as well as complaining that all the guy ever did was strike out or hit into double plays. Being just 10 years old and not yet into statistics, I took my dad at his word and looked at Santo for the next couple of years the way my dad did. Of course, I did start to wonder after a while because I could see by the way he played 3rd Base and by some of the numbers that I started to take an interest in, that maybe my dad was wrong. I began to see that this guy could indeed play pretty well. But then the decline set in and Santo was traded to the White Sox and soon Ronnies baseball career would be over.

Soon, I was more interested in new Cub heroes and Santo became just another retired player. But then something interesting happened. Santo became eligible for the Hall of Fame and I began to pay attention to that. In 1983 George Kell was inducted, now that doesnt seem important, but in the context of trying to elect Ronnie it would prove significant. As Santo kept missing out, I began to take another look at his numbers and they seemed pretty good. Then in 1990 Santo joined the Cubs broadcast team and soon I found myself listening more and more to the radio as Harry Caray began to age on the TV. Soon, I had the radio on all the time I found myself looking at Santo in a new light. I really enjoyed what he brought with a sense of passion and real emotion. Some people criticized him as a technical announcer, for his flubs, but that was a part of who he was. Then, in 2005, Ronnies son Jeff released the documentary "This Old Cub", which documented Santos struggles with losing both his legs to diabetes. It presented Santo in a stark, revealing manner that few athletes have ever allowed themselves to be portrayed. I think that more than anything else won Santo a legion of admirers that he hadnt had before. I think you couldnt help but be touched by his courage in the face of such a devastating situation. Id like to think that seeing his courage helped inspire me when I was faced with a serious health issue of my own in 2007. After watching a man have to put up with the indignity with trying to learn how to walk with 2 artificial limbs, just merely going through 5 months of chemotherapy doesnt seem so daunting. I only mention that because thats how much Ronnies story inspired me. So, in the end, I think I admire him more for his post baseball life than for anything he did on the baseball field. Though I do think he deserves to be honored for his baseball career. Earlier I mentioned George Kell. Not a bad ballplayer, but I think Ronnie was at least as good as him, if not better. 

As for my Dad, I have mentioned in an earlier blog that without my Dad I never wouldve become a Cubs fan, but truth be told, he was not perfect, even about baseball. But thats okay. And the fact I never really appreciated Santo in his playing days, but I came by my appreciation honestly, if a little late. So as we remember the sad events of December 3, 2010, let us also remember why we loved Ron Santo. And as the Cubs begin a new era under Theo, Jed and Dale, Im sure Ronnies up there watching and kicking his heels in excitement about the future.

"A sea of Humanity": My excellent, but crazy, Wrigley Adventure

On Wednesday the Cubs honored Ron Santo by unveiling a statue in front of Wrigley Field. I felt I should be there representing Cubs_an_appreciation. Its been a few years since my last visit to the worlds greatest baseball park. So first thing I did was pay my respects to the other statues. First up, Mr. Cub


 Then after hanging out with Ernie, I paid my respects to Harry Caray


 Then, it was sweet swinging Billy Williams

 Finally, it was just a sea of humanity that I ended up at the "L" station because there was no other way I could get  better pics. I did make a couple of videos that might give you an idea and I posted them on Facebook and My Space. It was a fun experience or maybe I should say adventure, though next time I might just watch it on TV. But I hope to be back to get my own pics of the statue. Here is a pic that was taken by Trib reporter Paul Sullivan, hope he doesnt mind!


 The Santo family is flanked by Glenn Beckert, Fergie  Jenkins and Randy Hundley. Great pic!


Ron Santo passed away on December 2, 2010 after a battle with pancreatic cancer and a long string of health issues connected to his diabetes. Santo would lose both legs yet continued to work as the Cubs radio analyst alongside Pat Hughes. He will be missed......

Ron Santo was  an institution in Chicago. He first came up to the Cubs in 1960 and by 1966 was one of the best 3rd basemen in the National League. He was a key member of the 1969 team, nearly winning the MVP award and continued to be a solid performer up through the beginning of the 1973 season. He went through a quick decline, probaly due to the diabetes he was diagnosed with early on in his career, eventually being traded to the crosstown White Sox, where he retired after a frustrating season. He wound up with 342 home runs. Following his playing days he had several business concerns, but by 1990 he was ready to return to the team he loved which he did as an announcer, teaming with Thom Brenneman and the legendary Harry Caray. As an announcer, he brought his own unique style, sometimes wearing his heart on his sleeve a little too much like the way he did as a player. But his sincerity  won him a new generation of fans who never saw him play.

Meanwhile, as he was becoming an icon in the broadcast booth, giving him his due for his baseball career has been an arduous task. The writers never gave him quite enough support to get him in the Hall of Fame, so now it has been up to the Veterans Committe to induct him. Except the Hall seems to keep changing the way in which the Veterans Committee picks players. Before they had changed it so players are selected every other year, now it will be players, managers, umpires and execs chosen from 4 differant eras with each other alternating. 

Ron Santo deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. It is a real shame that he didnt get in during his life.  You can make a good case that Santo is among the 10 best 3rd basemen to ever play.  

Here is a link to Baseball References Ron Santo page, judge for yourself if you think he belongs in the Hall of Fame:

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