Blog Entry

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

Posted on: December 3, 2010 12:59 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2010 1:02 pm

People will dwell on the Hall of Fame snub, which was shameful and wrong and remained an open wound until his dying day.

Which, sadly, came overnight Thursday when that Great Cub in the Sky waved Ron Santo home one final time.

Me? What I'm going to recall, even more than Santo's 2,254 career hits, five Gold Gloves and clicking heels, is the sunshine and the broadcast booth and the long lines of fans.

You should have seen Santo at work in spring training in Mesa, Ariz.

Well, not really at work, because, technically, that would have meant broadcasting that day's Cactus League game with his graceful and talented radio partner, Pat Hughes.

No, you should have seen the scene before the game, the lines of people in front of the broadcast booth, looking for an autograph, a photo with Santo, a handshake. They came armed with Sharpies, digital cameras and stories to tell the legend about the time when they went to Wrigley Field with their daddy back in 1965 and. ...

And the incredibly accommodating Santo had a smile for all.

Rarely have I seen a man with such devoted, unabashed love for a ballclub than Santo, who carried a torch for the Cubs that never dimmed.

But what set him apart was, the only thing he maybe loved as much as or more than the Cubs was people.

If you were lucky enough to witness him in public even once -- especially at spring training -- you couldn't help but smile. Rarely does life produce a man so genuine, so magnetic and so humble.

If you ever watched This Old Cub, a documentary made with the loving and talented touch of his son Jeff, who co-produced the film, and saw the things Santo had to go through simply to get himself ready for each new day, this sunny optimism was even more incredible. Stricken decades ago by diabetes, Santo long ago had both legs amputated below the knees.

On his bad days, Santo, a nine-time All-Star, was a fount of inspiration.

On his good? My goodness.

What a shame that he never made the Hall while he was alive, but that's another argument for another day. Yes, his career hit total was low. No, he never led his team to the postseason. But his glove strengthened his case immeasurably. Obviously. Hall voters never did size him up correctly.

Besides, if the Hall is nothing but a numbers game, then why don't we simply compile a series of qualifying statistics and let the computers spit out the final verdict on who gets in?

Yes. Another argument for another day.

Today is about celebrating one of the greatest Cubs who ever lived.

It is about toasting those anguished groans clearly heard behind Hughes' play-by-play when another Cub ran into an out, about raising a glass to the man who would climb right back up after every fall and ooze more optimism.

This will be our inning. This will be our day.

Ron Santo is not yet in Cooperstown. But he is well settled in the hearts of so many thousands of people in Chicago and throughout the land.

What a place that is to be. And what a blessing it must have been to soak in the heartfelt love of so many.


Since: Nov 28, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2010 12:07 am

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

First off Thank You Scott that was one of the nicest and sincere things I have ever read from you.Yes,I agree Ron should have been elected into the Hall of Fame before he died.Now they'll put him in and what has changed from before?Not a Darn thing.Shame on you,you self absorbed,hipocritical veterans (especially you Joe Morgen)committee.I'm 55 years old and grew up 6 blocks from Wrigley Field.My brother and I spent most summers till I was about 15 including the summer of 69 attending about 30 or 40 games a year.You went in for .35 on Tues. and got in for free the entire homestand as long as you cleaned your two rows of seats after the game.In 1967 or 68 after a cub Sunday double header,we stayed and cleaned our aisles and then went out for autographs.We knew where Ron parked his White Cadillac and waited.It was getting dark.Glenn Beckert and Ron ran to car.We asked them for their autographs,which they both gave us.Then Ron said we should be getting home because it was getting late.We told him we were going straight home so Dad wouldn't yell at us.We said you pass our house almost every day when you come and go to the ballpark.He said what?"Get In I don't want your dad yelling at me for making you guys late"He took us home got out of the car and stopped to talk to my dad(who was a huge Don Kessinger fan)and I had made a friend for life.This instance led to many more rides to and from Wrigley.It also kept us in baseballs.We never ran out of them when we went to Wells Park after the game to play pick-up games with the neighborhood kids.My now 26 year old son and 23 year old daughter got to meet Ron,thru the years and all of us feel as we have lost not just a great ball player and humanitarian but a favorite uncle,one we'll never be able to replace.

Since: Dec 4, 2010
Posted on: December 4, 2010 6:01 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Mar 11, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2010 4:31 pm

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

With all due respect to the sport writer, I have just one thing to say.  Booo to the Hall of Fame voters ~ Booo!

Since: Mar 11, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2010 4:29 pm

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

Once the mourning is over, the lasting story is that Santo was not elected to the HoF during his lifetime.  He and Bill Dahlen are the only two players in MLB history who are eligible for the HoF and whose stats rank better than the majority HoF players at their repsecitive positions, but were never elected to the HoF by the writers after 15+ tries.  The fact that the new & improved veterans committee overlooked these two is a tragic mistake. 

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: December 4, 2010 10:19 am

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

;     This is a person to look up too.   Not aonly as a baseball player but as a role model.  He lost both legs and still went to workeveryday he could.  He was the leader for JDRF which my chiid has!  He brought so much hope to people with this disease. 

Since: Apr 4, 2007
Posted on: December 4, 2010 3:51 am

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

Cannot say it better. Thank You Mr.Santo, it will never be the same. We will never forget you.

Since: Aug 8, 2010
Posted on: December 4, 2010 12:18 am

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

As a Cardinal fan I hated Ron Santo. He was also a terrible broadcaster, but it is absolutely ridiculous that he is not in the hall of fame. Shame on you hall of fame voters.

Since: Dec 3, 2010
Posted on: December 3, 2010 10:40 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2010 7:41 pm

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

this is my first post ever on this site -- and i have tears in my eyes as i type this.  i am an american league fan of the atheletics and rays today, but from 1960 to 1970 i followed the giants from my parents home in santa clara, ca.  i was not a cubs fan but i had many cubs players baseball cards.  as a third baseman in school i always followed jimmy davenport of the ginats and ron santo.  by far ron was the more talented and i love watching him play when i went to candlestick and saw the cubs and giants play.  now as an adult i admire so much ron's spirit in everything -- from his job as an announcer to his accepting what life handed him as a person.  i hope that someday he will have a plaque on the wall at cooperstown.  if he doesn't i will always think of him as a hall of famer.  god bless mr. santo and his family.  i will pray for the family he left behind.

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2010 7:27 pm

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

As a diehard Cubbies fan growing up on the South Side in the 60s, I took 2 buses and the L to watch usually hopeless teams because of 3 players: Banks; Williams; and Santo.  Ronnie blended Ernie's "let's play two" enthusiasam with Billy's all-around smooth talent, adding a dose of Northside  ethnic rah-rah to the mix.  Good as he was, he was underrated (esp. as a fielder: right up there with the Boyers and Nettle, a hair under Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt), and little did I know what suffering he had to endure just to get out there every day.    His exclusion from the HOF has mystified me more than that of any other player other than Rice (until he finally got his due): just shows that basball writers only look at stats, not actually at players and the game itself.  Santo was deadly consistent, clutch, a real gamer.  As announcer, he was heir to the incomparable Jack Brickhouse for his energy and that occasional insight that caught one delightedly by surprise.  Thanks for all the memories, Ronnie, and God bless.

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