Ok, I’ll come out with it. I was raised a New York sports fan. My father was a huge Yankees fan. The passion he felt for the Yankees lives on through me and my passion for the Cubs. He might be rolling over in his grave for my choice to go from rooting on the winningest team in sports history to rooting on the team with losing attached to its lore. But, after the passing of many Yankee greats including his favorite #7, Mickey Mantle and after seeing the tears in his eyes over the passing of someone he only knew over the airwaves, we are once again on the same team, left remembering a respectful, admirable, colorful baseball man.
Ron Santo broke into baseball in 1960 and enjoyed a 15-year career. His first 14 seasons he spent with the Cubs, his last with the White Sox. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1960, a 9-time All Star, a 5 time Gold Glover and a 7-time MVP candidate. He compiled a career .277 batting average with 342 Home runs, over 1100 Runs scored and over 1300 Runs Batted In. Anybody who pays attention to sports at all knows that he never won a World Series. His broadcast career included color commentary for Pat Hughes’ play-by-play on WGN (aka the Pat and Ron show) for the past 20 years. He has raised over $60 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and has been involved with Chicago’s annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes since 1974.
Now, I can only take from what I heard on the radio and television, comments and stories told by those who had worked with him or knew him personally. For a guy who lost his legs, and ultimately his life, to Type-1 diabetes, the way he carried himself day in and day out, you never would’ve known. His enthusiasm for the Cubs showed when they were doing well and he was not shy about voicing his displeasure on air either. The on-air chemistry with Pat Hughes was good enough to warrant a listen even from those who dislike baseball. His quirky comments and hilarious stories will never be forgotten.
A couple months after the fact, and with the first Cubs season without Santo in a few decades beginning in another couple of months, I don’t know if Cubs Nation has really felt the brunt of his passing. I don’t pretend to feel the way that people have for the past 40, 50, 60+ years of rooting for a team that has not been able to give them a World Series. In fact, I hope I do not have to know what that feels like. If it takes that long though, if not for myself, for all of those aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and fathers, siblings, cousins and friends that have passed on not knowing the joy of a Cubs World Series, I will continue to root for the Cubs.
My father knows what it’s like to root for one baseball team ‘til death. He knows what it feels like to lose a beloved ballplayer. So far, I’m batting .500 in those two categories. I plan on batting 1.000
About the Author
Written by Paul Jackson
I'm a full-time student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I love the Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls.