Ron Santo (HOF) One Down Two To Go

Say what you want about the late Ron Santo. He wore his heart on his sleeve.  It did not take much time to figure out the 3 things he was most passionate about:  1.  He loved the Cubs and wanted nothing more for them to break their century long World Series Championship drought.

2) He wanted to cure Juvenile Diabetes.  Not only did Santo, a diabetic, raise awareness of the disease through his playing career and subsequent broadcast career, he also raised over 60 million dollars for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund)

3) He wanted to be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York in Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

It was obvious that he wanted to achieve all of those goals in his lifetime and the consummate competitor would not be satisfied until those missions were accomplished.  On December 3, 2010 Santo passed away without achieving any of those lofty goals.

The most frustrating thing for me personally was the HOF snub. The other 2 goals will take much serendipity to accomplish, the HOF was a no-brainer.  He definitely had a HOF career as a third baseman for the northsiders.      I think 3 things shied voters away from voting for him when he was on the ballot as a player. 

1) He never got to the post season and did not have a chance to wow the casual fan and generate enthusiasm beyond Chicago and the National League.  There was no inter league play this time, so American League fans did not have much opportunity to see his body of work.

2) There were 3 more HOF worthy players on his own team.  These men Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks were so worthy of the Hall of Fame that they have all been enshrined there.  Many voters didn’t seem to want to put a 4th player there when the Cubs had little or nothing to show for such an honor. 

3) He was no Brooks Robinson.  While Santo, in my opinion,  was definitely the best third baseman in the NL in his career, Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles was the best in the Majors.

I don’t think that any of these reasons were valid enough to keep him out of the HOF in the original voting or when he appeared  on the Veteran’s committee ballot.  For the above  mentioned reasons or others the voters decided he was not HOF material.

Until now. Almost a year to the day after his death Cooperstown has come calling.  The Ron Santo legacy is now 1/3 complete.  Now we need to find a way to beat Diabetes and a team in the World Series.

 


I wonder what team team they will enshrine him for?



Sports Fragments

After I began this blog I found out that managing two blogs is a little much for me. I basically have been lying low recently and not posting much of anything here. I have decided that from now to the end of the year I am going to try to post more regularly here.

Today I will start by participating in a meme called Friday Fragments.

It is basically where you just share bits and pieces that would normally not make it into your blog. Since this is a sports blog mine will all be sports related.

Fragment 1 I was mistaken for a Cubs fan today. I received a book today from paperback swap about the 1906 world series between the Cubs and the White Sox. There was a yellow stick from the previous owner that said go Cubs! Now, I am a follower of the Cubs and can speak intelligibly on them, but when it comes to the Sox and Cubs I am much more a fan of the White Sox.

It is kind of unusual for a White Sox fan to not hate the Cubs. I like the Cubs, they are my second favorite team. I grew up a Cubs fan and used to make the annual pilgrimage to Wrigley each year with my family. My 10 year old switched to the Cubs a few years ago. I indulge him this betrayal, as my father indulged me by taking me to about a White Sox game a year in my youth.

Fragment 2 Speaking of the Cubs, I think the move to get Theo Epstein from the Red Sox and have him serve in some capacity in the Front Office is a wonderful one. When that announcement is finalized, I will be interested to see what kind of moves they make. I am a big Ryne Sandberg fan and hope that one of Epstein’s moves is to hire Sandberg to manage the team. We shall see.

Fragment 3 My son’s soccer team went 7-0-1 last spring. This year most of his teammates and the coach moved up to the next age level. My son did not. He and the new coaches son are the only players that remain from last year’s team. This year after 6 games the team is 3-2-1. I am assisting the coach on the sidelines during the games an even had to coach 2 of the games while our coach was out of town. We are 2-0 in those games, not that I’m keeping track 🙂

I am kind of glad that my son is on one of those win 1 week lose the next teams this year. I was afraid that going undefeated last season and only 1 defeat the season before that would give him the idea that such success is common. This year he is playing the best soccer he ever has and is enjoying himself and learning good life lessons win or lose.

Fragment 4 Now that the Rangers and the Cardinals are tied 1 game all in the 2011 World Series, it might be a good idea to share who I am rooting for.

This is a complex question for me. Normally, I cheer for the American League team as a victory bodes well for the White Sox. I also like to cheer for the team that hasn’t won the World Series before or in a while. These two factors put me in the Texas Rangers camp. The Cardinals won it all in 2006 and while the Rangers finally made it to the World Series for the first time last year, thwy did not win.

On the other side of the coin, I like the Cardinals. They are like the Minnesota Twins of the N.L., they always seem to end up in the mix each year even when they are not expected to. Tony LaRussa who led the White Sox to their first playoff appearance is now the long time manager of the Cards. Also when I coached T-Ball for 2 years our team was the Cardinals. Also, John Rooney one of the announcers for the 2005 White Sox, and quite possibly the best play by play man in the business is now an announcer for the Cardinals.

So basically I am torn. My tradition based rooting system says Rangers and my root for the people I like mentality says Cardinals. I am hoping for a 7 game series and don’t really mind which way it goes.

That’s all the fragments I have for now. Check out the rest of Friday Fragments at Half Past Kissing Time by clicking here.

Ron Santo – My memories


Cubs legendary third baseman Ron Santo died on Friday at the age of 70. Over the past few years many people have written about his quest to make baseball’s hall of fame.is His death due to complications of cancer has increased that talk many fold.

This will not be one of those posts. I will just concentrate on some thoughts about growing up a Ron Santo fan. In the early 1970’s I was a Chicago Cubs fan. These were the days of Billy Williams, Rick Monday, Glen Beckert, Randy Hundley and Jose Cardenal. My favorite players of that era were Ron Santo and Don Kessinger.
Some where between 1972 and 1973 I changed baseball allegiances from the Cubs to the White Sox. Within the next 3 years both my two favorite Cubbies followed suit. More about Kessinger at a different time. I will confine my thoughts to Ronny today.

Shortly before the 1974 season Santo was traded to the White Sox. As a big fan of his I was ecstatic. I did not realize that Santo himself was less than thrilled about the change in venue. He was basically forced away from the Cubs. They had wanted to trade him a few years before and were unable to do so because he had earned the right to approve all trades.

Santo with a lifetime batting average of .279 with the Cubs only hit 83 of375 (.221)for the White Sox splitting time between Second Base and Designated Hitter. (Bill Melton was firmly entrenched at Third, Santo’s position with the Cubd hiss). Only 9 at the timeI did not realize how bad a season he was having. I learned later that he was contentious in the club house often complaining the star treatment my other south side hero Dick Allen was receiving.

After a miserable 1974 Santo decided to stop playing baseball. He returned to Chicago as a radio announcer on WGN in 1990. I remember helping my dad work in his garage when Santo announced his first game. If Santo ever makes it to Cooperstown it should be as a player. As an announcer he was brutal! The day he died, WGN did a special day of tribute for Him. Even then, some of the WGN announcers commented on what a bad (technically) announcer he was and how the Cubs were the only team he could have ever worked for.

This was of course, because he wore his love for the Cubs on his sleeve. He may not have been much of an announcer, but he was an excellent cheerleader. No one ever expected unbiased reporting from Ron, and I don’t think anyone ever got it.
There is a lot more that I can and should say about Mr. Santo. But for now, I will just say I will miss you.

White Sox in first place at all star break

What a difference a month and 3 days make. On June 8th, the White Sox had lost 6 0f their last 10, were 5 games under .500 at home 4 games under on the road and 9 1/2 games behind the division leading Minnesota Twins. Pundits were calling for the dismantling of the team, and advocating trading Mark Buehrle, AJ Pierzynski, and Paul Konerko for whatever you could get for them. Since then, The Sox have won 25 of their last 30 games. 14-1 at home and 11-4 on the road. Sure, 13 of those wins came during interleague play which is where hurting A.L. teams can traditionally feast on their senior circuit counterparts. But during the same run the Sox have been 6-2 against the AL central where they had been struggling all year and went 6-1 against the Angels and Rangers the big guns of the A.L. West.

Baseball is a game of runs. It took the Sox 57 games to win 24. They’ve won 25 more in 27 fewer games. The Sox now find themselves 1/2 game in first place for the first time since opening day. Can it last? Who knows. But hopefully this will be the run that leads the White Sox to the World Series title I predicted at the beginning of the season. A prediction that looked none too promising a month ago.