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Santo’s year

Peter Elliott | Tuesday, December 6, 2011

1990 was an auspicious year for many reasons. Among them was the birth of a soon-to-be strapping young lad at approximately 1:11 in the morning on April 1. Around the same time, all-time Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo began his career broadcasting home games for his former team.

I was in Dublin last year around this time when Ron Santo passed away. I can’t think of a worse day while I was abroad. I had been raised a Cubs fan from the time I can remember. I had grown up with Ron Santo’s color commentary in the background of every spring, summer and fall. Listening to Ron broadcast was an event in itself. He was one of us. Where other broadcasters excelled in staying calm and impartial, Ron brought the voice of a diehard fan in the booth (which if anyone knows anything about us, there is no other type of Cubs fan). He conveyed ecstasy, the anger and frustration we all felt listening to our team break our hearts like no other. He seemed like he would be there until the Cubs finally won the Series (so forever). I was not ready to never hear Ron call a game again.

 What struck me as the greatest tragedy is that Major League Baseball never came close to validating his position as one of the greatest third-baseman of all time. His accomplishments on the field more than merited him a place in the Hall of Fame. In addition, Ron Santo played while diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. Since retirement, Santo became an ambassador for diabetes research, raising an estimated $40 million toward finding a cure to a disease which would eventually claim both of his legs. And throughout his life filled with adversity and setbacks, he had to suffer the ignominy of being routinely snubbed admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Never inducting Santo to the Hall of Fame in his lifetime will forever be one of the great sins of Major League Baseball.

The news of Santo’s long overdue induction into the Hall of Fame finally ends one of the great tragic cycles in baseball. Santo will finally be remembered as the legend he was on the field and still is to those of us who grew up living and dying with him broadcasting the outcome of Cubs games. The decision of the Golden Era committees rights one of the most egregious wrongs in baseball. In an era rocked by one sporting scandal after another, it is great to finally hear a story like this that all sports fans can take solace in knowing that some things are right with the sports world. You deserve it, Ron. Thanks again for the memories, and I agree: This year is our year.

Peter Elliott


Siegfried Hall

Dec. 6