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December 3, 2010

Chicago Cub Ron Santo gone, and forgotten in Cooperstown

Posted: 10:00 AM ET

The Windy City is breathing a sigh of sadness today.

One of my boyhood heroes has passed away. He was one of the best to ever play third base. He played on a team known as the "Loveable Losers." But the most impressive thing about Ron Santo is that he played 15 seasons in the majors while suffering from juvenile diabetes—something he kept a secret from his teammates and the world for years. Santo’s battle only became known when he fell down in pain after a routine throw to first.

He didn’t have the kind of medical treatment we do today. We don’t know if he regularly took insulin but he would eventually lose both his legs to the diabetes. His passing was reportedly from complications from bladder cancer.

But the biggest injustice of all, is this man (even while fighting a life-long uphill battle against diabetes) was one of the five or six best players to ever play third base and he died not being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It’s been a bad year for baseball. The ratings were terrible in the post-season and there were several blown calls. But Santo not being inducted while he was alive is the biggest blown call for me, and that was one they could have overturned. Sadly time has run out let Santo on the podium.

He wasn't just a good player. He was also a good man and a loving husband and father. There's a saying that states, "no cheering in the press box," but when Santo covered the Cubs in the booth he unapologetically cheered for Chicago. "I'm a fan," he explained. And we loved him for it. There was no pretense about him. He was who he was and those are the kind of people most of us tend to admire and adore.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ron once and it was a moment I'll never forget. The warmth that he emanated was palpable. Sadly he's gone now and baseball didn’t give others a chance to get to know him like I did with an enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Hopefully this is a call baseball will reverse.

R.I.P. Ron. You will be missed.

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Filed under: Baseball • Ron Santo • Sports


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Bill   December 3rd, 2010 10:20 am ET

Spell check that headline!


Diane Wilfong   December 3rd, 2010 10:24 am ET

Rafer. The 4 boys suspended from the South Charleston team are not simply going to another county to participate in a playoff game. Its the freakin State Championship game!


Diane Wilfong   December 3rd, 2010 10:25 am ET

Rafer..South Charleston boys are being prevented from playing a the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP game...not just another playoff game in a nother county! Don't you remember how important these games were in High School? Or NOT?


Dennis Kall   December 3rd, 2010 10:55 am ET

I had the great honor and privlige to meet and receive a autograph ball from the greatest third baseman ever to play baseball. I was only 8 at the time but he change my position career.
I also wore the number 10. Not only fro him but for my dad. My father had seen third basemen come and go. But with the range and amd arm no one could compete with Ronbo.
His presence at third and in lineup made Billy Williams aka sweet swing and Ernie Banks aka lets play two, better hitters and fielders.
Even Brooks Robinson said of him I am no comparasion to Santo. One must see the film his son produced. This way uyou will get the whole picture of Mr. Santo.
Just look at the lineup in heaven.
P-Walter Johnson
C-Mickey Cochran
1st-Chance
2nd-Evers
SS-Luis Apriciao
3rd-Ron Santo
LF-Mickey Mantle
CF-Babe Ruth
RF-Ty Cobb
There is no need for DH or releivers nor closers.
I thank Mr.Cub for all he did not only for the game or my beloved Cubbies, but the impact he made on my baseball career.
Ron say hello to Jack and Harry from all us. God blessed us with your presence and courage. God is now the owner and Jesus is your manager.
In closing we Cub fans will make sure you are in the Hall of Fame.


Sheryl   December 3rd, 2010 11:07 am ET

I grew up going to Wrigley Field watching Ron and the other loveable losers. He was a great player, a great fan and a great man unlike the overpaid, undertalented egotistical athletes of today. Rest in Peace, Ron.


Grayson   December 3rd, 2010 11:32 am ET

Thanks Bill.


Ed BAILEY   December 3rd, 2010 11:34 am ET

Mr Weigel,we must have played 'fast pitch" against Brach's candy company's famous wall at the same time frame.Ron Santos,Ernie Banks,Bobby Hull,Pierre Pilote(sic),stan makita and don't forget "crazy legs".Real men.thanks for the eulogy.


Doug   December 3rd, 2010 12:01 pm ET

And some day we'll regret not inducting Pete Rose for his baseball accomplishments. This isn't the age of the "Black Sox" anymore. If we can overlook Michael Vick's actions, why can't MLB get off their phony pedestal.


Larry Schaefer   December 3rd, 2010 1:51 pm ET

Ron Santo was a REAL gentleman on and off the baseball field. He was an institution in Chicago sports. He remains the ONLY position player in the history of major league baseball to play while being diabetic...and he kept it a secret from his fellow players, managers and coaches so they wouldn't treat him differently from others. Once, at bat in a game, he hit a home run while dazed, dizzy and seeing double during diabetic shock...amazing. We will all miss Ron Santo. p.s. Rafer, I was honored to have grown up with, played ball with and been best friends with you Dad, Tim. He was a wonderful guy and a true sports "nut". If he were alive today he'd be proud of what you worte about Ron. "Larry the laugh" Schaefer


Ted   December 3rd, 2010 2:34 pm ET

I will never forget the day I met Ron Santo. Any Cubs fans dream, to sit where I did the first time I saw the Ivy. It was before the scheduled game. The Old Timers Game. 1980. I was 8. I had just moved to Chicago from Connecticut, and even though I didnt know what the Cubs were prior to moving here, I knew I was a fan. See, my moms cousin, a guy named Bill Hands, was on this team, so I saw Cubs memorabilia all over the house without knowing what it was.

So my first cousin once removed(the technical relationship I have with Bill) invited me into the dugout of Wrigley Field to sit among legends, including Ron.

Granted if I knew then what I knew now, I would have gotten an extensive autograph collection, but looking back, sitting with the legends, Banks, Hundley, Williams, and of course Santo.

Later on in life, I was working at a soon to be closed restaurant in Libertyville, and in walks Santo. He wound up buying the place and turning it into his Grill 21. I pulled him aside, and told him I had a message from Bill, who had told me that if I had ever run into any of his old teammates, give them his best. This turned into a 20 minute talk of the Cubs, Harry Carray(whose restaurant I once worked at and met) and other things. The one thing that blew me away, that he remembered the nervous kid in the dugout that one day. I couldnt believe it.

He was a class act all the way, and an inspiration to Cubs fans, and, well, baseball fans everywhere.

I can see him up there practicing the stretch with Harry...

Ron, I miss you, and will never forget you.

Thanks for everything you ever did for the Cubs, and this city, and for all the charitable things you did along the way.


cyrus d.clark   December 3rd, 2010 2:57 pm ET

Mr. Santo,was and will always be my NUMBER ONE CUB PLAYER HE PLAYED WITH A LOT OF HEART, AND PLAYED HARD TOO! ALL,THOES SO CALLED "SPORTS WRITERS" THAT DID NOT VOTE HIM INTO THE HALL OF FAME........SHOULD NOW THEMSELVES BE ENSHRINED INTO THE HALL OF SHAME!!!!!!! BUT,YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK RONNIE WOULD SAY "THEY HAD A JOB TO DO,RIGHT OR WRONG DON'T LOOK BACK WITH BITTERNESS....BUT,LOOK FORWARD TO A BETTER TOMORROW" HE SURELY WAS A BIGGER MAN THEN MOST OF US!!! REST IN PEACE MR. SANTO,REST IN PEACE CYRUS D. CLARK FROM THE SHY


von   December 3rd, 2010 4:24 pm ET

Ron – Thank you so much for the wonderful Chicagoland childhood memories of watching you. R.I.P.


Palehorse   December 3rd, 2010 4:48 pm ET

Ron was a personal hero for me as a kid growing up in Chicago.
He represents a rare breed of sports figure that children could look up to and never have cause to be ashamed of doing so, even today.

That is very rare, especially in this day and age!

RIP Mr Santo! Thanks for the memories, steadfast play and dedication, and for providing an example we would all do well to strive to emulate!

Hope you are clicking your heels along the creators 3rd baseline this very day! You're in Gods Hall of Fame now! And mine!


Nursedr   December 3rd, 2010 4:49 pm ET

I will never forget Ron and his unabashed cheering for the Cubs!! Too bad the Veterans Committee (and Joe Morgan) never allowed him the joy of Cooperstwn!!


Karen   December 5th, 2010 6:14 pm ET

Saturday afternoons. My mom and dad both cheering for the Cubs. Jack Brickhouse saying " Hey-Hey" brings back warm memories.
My brother was allowed to skip scool on opening day. My Aunt had season tickets. I went with them one time. It was better then Disney.

Stay forever young Ronnie. To the people that did not induct him. Number 10 will fly high at Wrigley long after your gone.



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