Chicago Mourns the Loss, but Celebrates the Life, of Ron Santo

December 03, 2010

This story might not be about Chicago real estate, but it seems un-Chicagoan to not say something.

Ron Santo, one of the greatest players in Chicago Cubs history and the team’s beloved broadcaster for the past two decades, has died.

Santo, 70, who heroically fought diabetes for most of his life, which included the amputation of both his legs below the knees, eventually lost his life due to complications from bladder cancer.

Ron and Pat in the booth.

I'm so grateful that I recently got to go into the booth and meet Ron and Pat. They were wonderfully friendly.

Santo died in Arizona. Reports say that he will be coming to back to Chicago where he has a home in Bannockburn. Multiple memorials will be planned.

“Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans,” said Cubs owner Tom Ricketts in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers today are with his wife Vicki and their family and we share with fans across the globe in mourning the loss of our team’s number one fan and one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game.”

Ron Santo was a nine-time All-Star and a five-time Golden Glove winner who had 342 home runs and 1,331 runs batted in over his 15-year major league career. Yet, the Veteran Committee turned him down 19 times for the Hall of Fame, an honor that would not mean as much posthumously.

In fact, Santo made it known that he did not want a posthumous entrance into Cooperstown. Instead, his Hall-of-Fame day came back in June when Santo was honored on the 50th anniversary of his major-league debut.

“I am so fortunate to have been in baseball for 50 years, and it is incredibly heartwarming to be recognized by the Cubs for that achievement,” Santo had said in a statement. “I’m grateful and thankful to be associated with the Chicago Cubs. I wouldn’t change the last 50 years for anything!”

Throughout the years, when I couldn’t be at my second Chicago home (Wrigley Field), Ron would keep me company all baseball season long. When each season would end, a sadness would wash over me; not only because the Cubs had another losing year, but because I knew I was losing Ron for months. It felt like the loss of a friend.

And now the loss is permanent.

“In the days and seasons ahead, we will honor Ron and celebrate all he has meant to our team and our fans,” said Ricketts. “Ron’s number 10 will always be close to our hearts and Ron will forever be a member of the Cubs family.”

RIP, Ron. You were one-of-a-kind, and you will always be a Hall of Famer to me.

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