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.