Friday, December 3, 2010

Ron Santo, 1940-2010. R.I.P.

Ron Santo, Chicago Cubs third baseman turned broadcaster, died last night of complications of diabetes and bladder cancer. He was 70.

Santo played in the bigs for 15 seasons; all but one with the Cubs. Outside of Brooks Robinson, he was the greatest third baseman of his generation. He was a five time Gold Glove winner and a nine time NL All-Star. On four occasions, he led the NL in walks. He finished his career with a .277 lifetime batting average with 342 homeruns and 1331 RBI.

Yet Santo has been denied his rightful spot in Cooperstown both by the baseball writers and later the Veterans Committee. There are only fourteen third basemen in the Baseball Hall of Fame (including three from the Negro Leagues) and Santo belongs with them. Period.

What makes Santo's career all the more remarkable was that he played most of his career with Type 1 Diabetes. It was a condition that later forced the amputation of both of his legs. Yet Santo made the best of his situation spending the past two decades as a color commentator for the Cubs where he became beloved by a new generation of Cubs fans for his passion for the team through good and bad, mostly bad.

Hall of Fame or not, somewhere in heaven Ron Santo is kicking up his heels.

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