Ron Santo — Hall of Famer
Ron Santo's dream was attained, but unfortunately it came a year after his death.
The election of former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame came a year too late.
Santo, who was probably better known as a Cubs radio broadcaster to younger fans, very much wanted to be elected to the hall, and he came fairly close on several occasions. But when he died a year ago, membership in the hall was the unfulfilled dream of his lifetime. It's a shame that he is not here to revel in this well deserved honor.
A committee of former players corrected the oversight this week, and better late than never. Santo will be inducted posthumously next summer.
There's really no rhyme nor reason to Santo's repeated failure to get enough votes from the baseball writers who chose the inductees.
Santo was a great player. He made nine All-Star teams, won five Gold Gloves and had 342 career home runs. His numbers are comparable to Hall of Fame third basemen like Mike Schmidt, George Brett and Wade Boggs and better than others like old-timers Pie Traynor and Jimmy Collins.
Baseball writer Tom Verducci offered an explanation for the writers' failure to support Santo. He said Santo was "under-appreciated in part because his Cubs never played in the postseason, because third basemen tend to be under-represented in the hall and because his skills at getting on base and playing defense are better quantified and appreciated today than in the years when Santo never gained 50 percent of the writers' votes."
Santo played in the '60s and '70s, and, obviously, he was a mainstay of some good Cubs teams, most notably the 1969 Cubs that looked like pennant winners before the surging New York Mets claimed the National League title.
He was known in more recent years as the Cubs' enthusiastic advocate in the radio booth, living and dying with the team's wins and losses.
Even more than his status as a broadcaster, however, was the cheerful courage with which he faced a series of health challenges stemming from diabetes. Sure, he was a great ballplayer. But he was a better man. People couldn't help but pull for him because they respected him so much.
That's why it's not just Cubs' fans who are pleased that Santo has won a spot in the Hall of Fame. Everyone who admires professional skill, common decency and quiet courage can take satisfaction in seeing Santo join baseball's elite.