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?



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.