Monday, December 5, 2011

One Award for Santo Down, One To Go


I don’t know if non-Cub fans remotely relate to the overwhelming joy we Cub fans have today, that Ron Santo was posthumously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today.

Even sweeter was this reported by the Chicago Sun Times:

Santo was the lone candidate to garner the necessary 75 percent of votes cast by the 16-member Golden Era Committee, which considered a ballot of eight former players and two executives whose contributions to the game were most significant from 1947-1972.

Santo received 15 votes from the 16-member panel. Jim Kaat drew 10 votes, two short of the required number. Gil Hodges and Minnie Minoso each had nine votes.

How does a player whose greatest stats were a non-spectacular 342 Home Runs and 5 Golden Gloves get selected as the ONLY candidate to on this ballot?


Non-Chicagoans who never heard a Cubs radio broadcast won’t get this – but it is Ron Santo above any former Chicago Cub who represented our joy, our angst and our neurosis.  Ronny never got the national attention Ernie Banks did and not to take away anything from Banks, but the “heart on his Cub-logoed” sleeve Santo was certainly “Mr. Cub” in spirit.

His exhilaration when Cubs won, and his despair when they lost was never gauged in terms of what was good for radio or his own image.  You could say he was the original Honey Badger.  He didn’t care.  For those who didn’t know him – or want a smile a quick remembrance of pure Ronnie:

He was Mr. Authenticity in a world of careful media images and idol worship to being “cool.”  He was cool because he was so transparent and gave 100% in his Cub devotion as he did on the field.

The great joy (and great pain he couldn’t enjoy it) of being inducted for us Cub’s fans is that it is an accomplishment of the SPIRIT of being a Cub fan.

Namely, that the quality of heartfelt commitment can be recognized even in what you may not achieve in worldly accomplishments.

Many of us were not over achievers in youth or as an adult.  Even with the loss of both legs to diabetes, Ron Santo proved that none of us have an excuse to not give life our all.  He exemplified what it means to be fully committed to something, to love it with all of your heart and to be yourself.

When the Cubs win a World Series, everyone of us who enjoy Ron Santo will be thinking of him before Tinkers, Ever and Chance, Ernie or Billy. 

One award for Ronnie down.  One to go.

A recap of Ron’s achievements from the Sun Times:

Santo becomes the 12th MLB third baseman to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first elected at the position since Wade Boggs in 2005. Including three selections from the Negro leagues, there are now 15 third basemen in the Hall of Fame. In 15 major league seasons, Santo compiled a .277 lifetime batting average, with 2,254 hits in 2,243 games, while totaling 1,331 runs batted in and 365 doubles.

Santo ranked among the elite during his 15-season big league career. Between 1960-74, only four players had 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,300 RBI: Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams and Ron Santo. Additionally, only four players had 2,000 hits and 1,000 walks in that span: Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson and Ron Santo. Santo’s 342 home runs were the most by any third baseman in his 15-season career, easily outpacing his next closest competitor in Brooks Robinson (248 home runs in that span).

In his 15-year career, Santo finished in the league top 10 in batting average three times, slugging percentage five times, on-base percentage seven times, base on balls nine times, games played eight times, home runs seven times, RBI eight times, runs scored three times and total bases five times.

Overall, Santo had 11 seasons of 20 or more home runs, including four in a row of 30 or more. He had eight 90-plus RBI campaigns, four seasons with at least 100 RBI and ranked in the top 10 in RBI eight years in a row. Santo was top 10 in RBIs for eight straight seasons.

Santo holds or shares many defensive records for third baseman, including most consecutive National League games at third base (364) and most years leading either league in total chances (nine).

Santo stayed involved in baseball since retiring after the 1974 campaign. He was an empathetic voice of the fans on WGN Radio for 21 seasons through the final year of his life from 1990-2010. Santo also helped raise more than $60 million for juvenile diabetes research, through which his legacy lives on.

Santo, who passed away on Dec. 3, 2010, will be joined in the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 by any electees who emerge from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting, which will be announced on Monday, January 9.

Overall, Santo becomes the 46th person with a Cubs association to earn enshrinement to Baseball’s Hall of Fame.


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