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A Hall-of-Famer to all Cubs fans
December 3, 2010 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Ron Santo, legendary Cubs third baseman and longtime broadcaster has passed away due to complications of bladder cancer. He was the first player in the major leagues to play with type 1 diabetes, a fact he kept secret for years. "This Old Cub" is a documentary which (in part) detailed the Hall of Fame's snubbing of Santo. Number 10 will be remembered for his pizza, the millions raised for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, but most of all his passion for Cubs baseball during good times and not so good times.
posted by achmorrison (43 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
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From a long time White Sox fan.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:58 AM on December 3, 2010


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I grew up during the Santo/Banks/Durocher era and my buddies & I used to ride the L to catch the Cubbies. First love was the Sox, but day games at Wrigley were the bomb.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:06 AM on December 3, 2010


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posted by Thorzdad at 6:09 AM on December 3, 2010


Sad. My pick for best player not in the Hall of Fame.
posted by Kwine at 6:09 AM on December 3, 2010


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Such a nice man. He'll be missed.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:10 AM on December 3, 2010


Much love for Pizza.

I had two thoughts when I heard the news this morning. One, disappointment and sadness that the world has lost a great human being, and the fact that there will be no more radio broadcasts with Ronnie, who was never a typical commentator and always wore his heart on his sleeve. That feeling turned quickly to anger at the asshats and bastards who failed to induct him into the Hall of Fame while he was alive. I understand the stats aren't perfect, but they're still fantastic, and besides, numbers are just numbers, and as a Cubs fan there is nobody I'd rather have admitted to the Hall than Santo. What he did and who he was can't completely be defined simply by numbers.

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posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:12 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by theichibun at 6:13 AM on December 3, 2010


I seriously contemplated staying home from work this morning to do a post about this. He was a genuinely good man and it pains me he didn't get into the Hall of Fame while alive. I wish I could by Pat Hughes a beer. Or maybe some tuna salad.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 6:15 AM on December 3, 2010


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posted by jtron at 6:15 AM on December 3, 2010


That last link is just brutal. Funny but brutal. It is the sound of every Cubs fan ever in every situation always. And that's why Ronnie was the best. He wasn't a commentator so much as a conduit for the fans' emotions.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:17 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


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Oh man, sad. I loved watching him call games on WGN.
posted by statolith at 6:25 AM on December 3, 2010


As a lifelong Sox fan I have nothing but admiration for the man. He was a hero to so many sports fans, but he was also a model for pro athletes on how to live in the public eye with class. Shame he didn't get inducted into the Hall of Fame while alive.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:33 AM on December 3, 2010


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I'm really gutted about this. I was never a Cubs fan until I moved to Chicago (and married into a Cubs family) and I immediately fell in love with Ron's passion for the game. He was a fan, you know? His panicked "Oh, no!" sounded just like that of any other long-suffering Cubs fan. My mother-in-law even watches the games with the sound off so she can listen to the radio broadcasts, and I'm pretty sure she's not alone in that habit.

I think it really, really, really sucks that he never got into the Hall of Fame. Now, of course, there will be much jumping-through-asses to put him there, but too late.
posted by sugarfish at 6:33 AM on December 3, 2010


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I'll pour some of my insulin on the ground later for him. For now, I'll just recall the middle pitcher incident.
posted by stevis23 at 6:40 AM on December 3, 2010


I grew up a Cubs fans which probably explains why I don't really like baseball. But I know Ron Santo did. He loved it.

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posted by Sailormom at 6:42 AM on December 3, 2010


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posted by Bummus at 6:42 AM on December 3, 2010


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From a Cardinals fan. Always had tons of respect for Ron Santo.
posted by evisceratordeath at 6:44 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post. Inspiring story.
posted by chinston at 6:56 AM on December 3, 2010


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Living as an ex-pat, listening to Pat and Ron was one of the things that kept me connected to the States.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:01 AM on December 3, 2010


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Pat and Ron were an oasis in a world of teenage depression and angst for me and I can't thank them enough. My brain can't wrap itself around the idea of never switching on the radio to hear him again.
posted by hoyland at 7:25 AM on December 3, 2010


Wow, I obviously didn't turn on the local news today. I'm too young to remember him as a player, but in some ways, though I grew up with Harry Carey as well, I kind of think of Santos in the booth in the way some people older than me thought of Carey -- a wonderfully oddball personality who, if you listened to him for just about any five minutes, nearly always illustrated while baseball the American pro sport with the most personality. My love/like/tolerance of baseball comes and goes, but when it comes again, I'll probably love it a little bit less. He will be greatly missed.

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posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:38 AM on December 3, 2010


In a strange confluence of Chicago, Catholcisim, Christmas and all, the only decoration in my house right now is on the mantle -- a jersey, an autographed baseball, and a burning candle.

The first game I ever saw was on a little B/W TV on a Saturday afternoon, with my old man drinking a Meister Brau and yelling at Brickhouse, but he would always hitch up just for second right when they were about to make a double play, and yell "Watch how he's gonna click his heels!"

In a strange confluence of summer and winter and fathers and sons, the only number my only son has ever worn on any jersey he ever played sports in, has been #10. In honor.

I'm going to go watch my (autographed) copy of This Old Cub. maybe you have to be a kid from Illinois, but I haven't cried like this since the day Lennon died.
posted by timsteil at 7:40 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


achmorrison, Thank You for this post.
posted by timsteil at 7:43 AM on December 3, 2010


Aww jeez.
posted by gjc at 7:57 AM on December 3, 2010


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Love ya, Ron.
posted by d1rge at 8:34 AM on December 3, 2010


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As another STL to Chicago transplant, it was Ron and Phil that got me to listen despite thinking that the Cubs are a terrible organization. If you never heard them broadcast then you missed the only team I have heard that communicated real pathos. When Ron would say "oh no" you did not need to hear the rest of it, you knew it was heartbreak time. Summer is not going to be the same without him.
posted by cgk at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2010


Just, this. Still weeping.
posted by timsteil at 9:17 AM on December 3, 2010


I never saw him play, but I grew up listening to him. Along with Harry Caray, his voice will always be synonymous with my childhood.

Here's my favorite Ron Santo memory:
The Cubs were playing Milwaukee and there was a player that was particularly nasty (I forgot who he was talking about specifically). Ron was muttering, and probably forgot to click the mute button before he said, "Well, he's no trip to Hollywood."

To this day, Mrs. Zooropa and I still crack up over that. You can also count on one of us to call any unpleasant person or situation "no trip to Hollywood."

RIP, Ron. We'll miss you, partner.
posted by zooropa at 9:18 AM on December 3, 2010


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posted by Smart Dalek at 9:44 AM on December 3, 2010


Ronnie Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins . . . these were the heroes of my Chicagoland childhood. Ball players don't come any classier.

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posted by FelliniBlank at 10:19 AM on December 3, 2010


FelliniBlank: "Ronnie Santo, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins . . . these were the heroes of my Chicagoland childhood. Ball players don't come any classier."

Yeah, what he said. Ron Santo was the first Major League player I ever met, as a young boy. My grandfather had reserved seats on the 3rd base line at Wrigley, and took me when he could to see the games. I remember the ride on the smoky L car to the park, queueing to get into the field, and that magic moment when you emerged from under the stands to see the bright green of the playing field and the dark green of the ivy.

I miss that so much- I sometimes think I'd trade the rest of my life to have one more day with my grandfather at Wrigley, watching Ronnie snag a line drive right in front of me.
posted by pjern at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2010


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posted by eriko at 10:40 AM on December 3, 2010


Rest In Peace Ron.
He loved those Cubbies.
posted by Israel Tucker at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2010


Big baseball fan, but I've only really observed the Cubs and their fans from a distance. Didn't know much about Santo, and was always rather baffled by the unceasing affection for the Cubs (though being from Toronto and watching the Maple Leafs simultaneously lose and constantly sellout for 2 generations, perhaps I shouldn't be).

Reading the tenor of the comments here, the way fans are talking about Santo, I've gained a much better understanding of the dynamic. People are speaking as if having lost an adored family member. It almost feels impolite to be looking at from the outside, like I'm crashing a shiva.

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posted by dry white toast at 1:33 PM on December 3, 2010


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posted by jlkr at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2010


Even as a Cubs-loathing Pirates fan, this makes me sad. It's hard to look down on a man and player who believed so strongly in his town and his team. Go Cubbies! Sort of.
posted by elder18 at 3:51 PM on December 3, 2010


Rest in peace, Ron. There are only day games in heaven.
posted by Danf at 3:59 PM on December 3, 2010


and was always rather baffled by the unceasing affection for the Cubs (though being from Toronto and watching the Maple Leafs simultaneously lose and constantly sellout for 2 generations, perhaps I shouldn't be).

That's pretty much exactly it. But there is also a demographic thing going on, in that over the last 25 years or so, the neighborhood that Wrigley field is in has become a destination neighborhood for the post-college, pre-family crowd. So you have a lot of people for whom a very fun part of their lives was spent in the area, sort of immersed in the Cubs. And their logo is cute. 30 years ago, the ballpark was mostly empty every game. Search youtube for "lee elia". A profanity filled rant in response to the team getting booed by a sparse crowd.

But there IS a quality to the Cubs that no other team in the modern era can really match. The stadium is old school. When you are sitting in the lower deck, you are pretty much on top of the field. It's a lot more like hanging out at a little league team. And they were the last team to get lights in the stadium- they still play a LOT of day games, and there was a time when you could blow off work, get some tickets and go to a game pretty much any day. Not so much now.

And lets not forget that Ronnie played for the Sox for a while, too.
posted by gjc at 4:31 PM on December 3, 2010


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posted by lester at 6:08 PM on December 3, 2010


And lets not forget that Ronnie played for the Sox for a while, too.

I won't, but it seems to have been an unhappy time for him.

Anyway, WGN Radio has specific tributes starting at 1 PM central today, including rebroadcast of Kerry Wood's no hitter and Carlo's Zambrano's no hitter. And they've been talking about him round the clock since his passing.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:11 AM on December 4, 2010


His last interview, from 11/28/2010.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:16 AM on December 4, 2010


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posted by SisterHavana at 1:52 PM on December 4, 2010


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I didn't pay attention to baseball growing up, and only started following the Cubs when my wife got me hooked about five years ago. In that time players and managers have come and gone too quickly to get very attached to them -- hearing Pat and Ron in the booth was one of the few constants. We made our first trip to Wrigley this spring, and I caught myself watching the booth almost as much as the field, wondering about Ron's reactions to the game.
posted by agent at 5:11 PM on December 5, 2010


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