Sad news came this morning for the Chicagoland area with the passing of Cubs legend/broadcaster Ron Santo. Santo was pretty clearly before my time in terms of his playing days, as he was retired by 1975. He was definitely a character, and I became a bit more familiar with him watching Cubs games on WGN from time to time.
Santo spent 15 seasons playing 3B in the Majors, making his debut in 1960 with the Cubs and holding down the position for them until 1974. He spent his last season with the cross town White Sox, but it is clear that his allegiance lies with the Cubs. While with the Cubs, he posted 4 straight 30 home run seasons (1964-1967), won 5 Gold Gloves, made 9 All-Star teams, and the numbers show him to have been an excellent hitter with a great eye:
- Averaged nearly a walk per strikeout for 9 straight seasons (1964-1972)
- Led the league in walks 4 times
- Posted an OPS+ of 125 or higher 7 straight seasons (1963-1969)
In an era where pitchers were a much more dominant force than the hitters, Santo was a top level slugger for the Cubs.
He’s almost become as well known for his broadcasting and his unashamed love for the Cubs. Usually the color commentator for the Cubs broadcasts since 1990, Santo was known for cheering the team when they were doing well and being upset when they weren’t playing as well.
The team retired his number #10, an honor generally reserved for players that are either in the Hall of Fame already, or widely expected to have been elected. Santo was known to want to be elected to the Hall of Fame, but sadly he won’t see this happen.
Santo was definitely a character, and will be truly missed by the Cubs and their fans everywhere.
Update: I actually forgot to mention his battles with diabetes and being one of the first players to come out and mention the condition. Here’s some links of some of the thoughts coming out about Santo now as well.
Another Cubs Blog breaks down the case for Santo to be in the Hall of Fame as well, and I’d definitely be inclined to agree. He belongs.
UPDATE #2: As I am finding some other great writeups, I’ll probably continue to add them to this post – but I thought this one stuck out, especially coming from a Cardinals blog.