Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ron Santo - This Old Cub

For Christmas my brother Rod gave me a copy of the DVD This Old Cub about the life and career of former Chicago Cub Ron Santo.

As a life long Cub Fan I am aware of how great Ron Santo was as a third baseman. For those unfamiliar here is the entry on Ron Santo from Wikipedia:

Ronald Edward Santo (born 25 February 1940 in Seattle, Washington) is a former third baseman in Major League Baseball who played almost his entire career with the Chicago Cubs. He was named a National League All-Star 9 times in his 15 seasons of play from 1960 to 1974, and won consecutive 5 Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence from 1964 to 1968.

Santo made his debut for the Cubs on 26 June, 1960. He played with the team until 1973, then finished his career with the cross-town Chicago White Sox in 1974. During his 14-season run with the Cubs, Santo hit 337 home runs; he was the first third baseman to hit over 300 home runs and win five Gold Gloves, a feat since matched by only Mike Schmidt, a hall-of-fame player with a lifetime batting average 10 points below Santo's .277, in an era noted for weaker pitching.

During his playing career, he carefully concealed the fact that he had Type 1 diabetes. He feared that had this information come out, he would be forced into retirement. He was diagnosed with this disease at the age of 18, and was given a life expectancy of 25 years. Santo has had both his legs amputated below the knee as a result of his diabetes; the right in 2001 and the left in 2002. Today, he is a Cubs broadcaster on WGN radio with play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes. He has also worked with Harry Caray, Thom Brennaman, Wayne Larrivee, and Bob Brenly.

Santo has been endorsing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes in Chicago since 1974, and has raised over $50 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In 2002, Santo was named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's "Person of the Year."

On September 28, 2003, Santo's #10 was retired by the Cubs organization, making him the third player so honored behind his teammates Ernie Banks (#14) and Billy Williams (#26). His life and career were explored in the 2004 documentary film This Old Cub, directed by his son Jeff.

In 2005 he came within eight votes of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee. Bill James, arguably baseball's most respected statistical guru, feels Santo's elevation to the hall of fame is long overdue.


What impresses me about Ron Santo is not found in his baseball statistics. It is his heart. Here is a man who had to live with Juvenile Diabetes in an era when glucose meters did not exist, was told that he had a life expectancy of 25 years, and eventually lost both of his legs. And yet he did not/does not let this disease control him. Instead he has chosen how he wants to face life. Because of this approach to life and his continued fundraising support of JDRF, Ron Santo has earned the respect of many people, including this Cub fan.

Ron Santo is a great example of the power of positive attitude. I recommend this video to anyone who wants to see a life lived gracefully.

1 comment:

EB said...

Given his accomplishments on the field, relative to the players of his day and all the third basemen in history, he is the most deserving position player not in the Hall.