December 3, 2010
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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