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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.

Comments

Since: Oct 26, 2007
Posted on: December 3, 2010 6:29 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

Thank you for a different perspective on thinking about Ron Santo's many attributes.

I always remember his fielding and his giving 110% every day that he played. The leadership that he displayed that sometimes clashed with Durocher's desire for absolute control. I remember him just loving to play the game and the hitting that was better than the numbers look today and were better than most third basemen ever. I loved to hear Jack Brickhouse say the infield from 3rd to 1st is Santo, Kessinger, Beckert, and Banks.

As a broadcaster, his unbridled enthusiasm for the Cubs always showed. In this era it is not supposed to but we loved that it did when he was the one displaying it.

Yes, the HOF is the biggest sore spot because both sets of voters have been idiots when they bring up Santo and the Veteran Committee in particuloar I believe has held some grudges. For what, I don't know. I have heard Tom Seaver say he would never voter for him and it was well known that Santo hated the Mets after 69 as did I but I have also heard members of The Big Red Machine say that they will never vote for him and I don't get that because everyone had nothing but respect for that team. Anyway, it is too sad of a day to discuss this in such depth.

Ron, I bet you are signing autographs right now up in heaven or maybe spending time with Jack Brickhouse or some other old Cub favorites that have passed on. I am sure the Cub fans up there were thrilled with the gift they got today when they saw you cross over. RIP.



Since: Jul 5, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2010 5:26 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

Good piece about a great man. I'm not a Cub's fan by any stretch but I listened to a lot of Cubs games on radio because of Santo. Every color commentator on a team's radio broadcast should be like Ron Santo. Always optimistic, always passionate, always classy. The thing I'll Remember most about is listening to a Cub's game when there is a bang bang play at the end of the game that decides the game and the Cubs win and I have no idea what happened because Santo is cheeriing and screaming his head off. Loved his passion, he was a not only a Hall of Fame player but broadcaster as well.



Since: Dec 7, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2010 4:39 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

that was just why i, as a tiger fan, loved him. his opinion was allways white and blue. Ron was one of the few person who could get away with everything he said.



Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: December 3, 2010 4:19 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

"a little bias but entertaining every day"-------------hahahaha.......a little biased?  He's the Cubs biggest fan!  But anyway, who cares?  Its a Cubs broadcast for Cubs fans; he has no obligation to be unbiased.  He will be missed by many, forgotten by none.



Since: Dec 7, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2010 4:11 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

because of Ron i would listen to cubs games. allways funny, a little bias but entertaining every day. a great storyteller. he will be missed by the cubs nation. i had the pleasure to see him once when visiting the cubs back in 1993, a 1-0 game angainst the rockies, i saw him in the allie trying to walk. everyone i line got a handshake, and there where a few people. from the netherlands i wish his family all the best and Ron, rest in peace, a icon lost for baseball, i icon won in heaven.



Since: Sep 9, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2010 4:11 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

Man, what a sad day.  Love or hate the Cubs, you have to respect Ron Santo for the person that he was.  I was lucky enough to meet him once and often chose to listen to him on WGN Radio rather than watch the game on TV.   I will truly miss his commentary, singing the seventh inning stretch, and that great personality. Rest in peace, Ron.  You were one of a kinda and truly a special person.



Since: Nov 23, 2009
Posted on: December 3, 2010 3:50 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

Oe of my favorite Cubs ... along w/ Ernie and Ferguson.
I was 10 years-old during August in 1969 when my Cubbies were leading the pennant. I LIVED for baseball and was an excellent Little League pitcher.
During those days, if you missed the TV evening news ... you couldn't get the day's sports scores. No cable, Internet ... nothing.

I vividly remember each morning that August... running out to get the newspaper and opening it straight to the MLB box scores.  
I literally watched the Cubs lose the pennant day-by-day in the morning paper.
God rest Ronnie's soul.
From another Die-hard Cubs fan,
Jim




Since: Jan 4, 2007
Posted on: December 3, 2010 3:49 pm
 

The twinkle in Santo's eyes said it all

All I have to say is "Thank You". You are and always will be truly missed.


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