Ronald Edward Santo (born February 25, 1940 – December 3, 2010) was an American third baseman in Major League Baseball who played almost his entire career with the Chicago Cubs. He was named a National League All-Star 9 times during his 15 seasons of play (1960 - 1974), and won five consecutive Gold Glove awards for fielding excellence (1964-1968).
Santo made his debut with the Cubs on June 26, 1960. He played with the team until 1973, then finished his career with the cross-town Chicago White Sox in 1974. During his 14-season run with the Cubs, Santo hit 337 home runs; he was the first third baseman to hit over 300 home runs and win five Gold Gloves, a feat since surpassed by only Mike Schmidt, a Hall of Fame player.
In 1966, in the midst of trying to break the Cubs' team consecutive-game hitting streak, Santo was sidelined for nearly two weeks following a beaning that fractured his cheekbone. When Santo returned (and broke the record) he was wearing an improvised ear-flap on his batting helmet in order to protect the injury. Earflaps have since become standard equipment on batting helmets.
Struggle with diabetes
In the early years of his playing career, he carefully concealed the fact that he had Type 1 diabetes. He feared that had this information come out, he would be forced into retirement.
Because the methods of regulating diabetes in the 70s were not as advanced as they are today, Santo would gauge his blood sugar levels based on his moods. If he felt his blood sugar was low, he would snack on a candy bar in the clubhouse.
As part of the publicity surrounding "Ron Santo Day" at Wrigley Field on August 28 1971, he revealed his struggle with diabetes. He was diagnosed with this disease at the age of 18, and was given a life expectancy of 25 years. Santo has had both his legs amputated below the knee as a result of his diabetes: the right in 2001 and the left in 2002.
Santo shares a bond in this respect with Cub rookie Sam Fuld, who also suffers from diabetes.
Today, he is a Cubs broadcaster on WGN radio with play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes. He has also worked with Harry Caray, Thom Brennaman, Steve Stone, and Bob Brenly. Santo also briefly worked with Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers commentator Wayne Larrivee. He also does commercials for Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating which he endorses.
Work with diabetes
Santo has been endorsing the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes in Chicago since 1974, and has raised over $50 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In 2002, Santo was named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's "Person of the Year." Santo also inspired Bill Holden to walk 2,100 miles, from Arizona to Chicago, to raise $250,000 for diabetes research.
This Old Cub
In 2004, Santo and his battle against diabetes was the subject of a documentary, This Old Cub. The film was written, co-produced, and directed by Santo's son, Jeff.
Hall of Fame?
On September 28, 2003, Santo's #10 was retired by the Cubs organization, making him the third player so honored behind his teammates Ernie Banks (#14) and Billy Williams (#26). Second baseman Ryne Sandberg (#23) later had his number retired in 2005. Other prominent Cubs had worn number 10 after Santo's retirement, notably Dave Kingman and Leon Durham. The most recent wearer had been interim manager Bruce Kimm, just the previous year.
In 2005, he came within eight votes of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, and in 2007 he came within five votes. Bill James, a notable statistical guru, feels Santo's elevation to the Hall of Fame is long overdue. Santo's next opportunity for admission will come in 2009.
Although disappointed at being bypassed, on the day his number was retired in 2003, the ever-optimistic and emotional "old Cub" told the cheering Wrigley crowd, "This is my Hall of Fame!"
During Ryne Sandberg's Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 2005, he echoed his support for Ron Santo. Ryno said "...for what it’s worth, Ron Santo just gained one more vote from the the Veterans Committee."
In April, 2004 Santo was inducted into the inaugural class of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (Washington's high school athletics league) Hall of Fame as a graduate of Seattle's Franklin High School.
Ron Santo joined the Cubs' broadcast booth in 1990 as the WGN color commentator. He works with Pat Hughes and these radio broadcasts are also known as the Pat and Ron Show.
In Chicago, Santo is known for his unabashed broadcast enthusiasm, which he reveals with groans and cheers during the game. As excitable as Santo is when a great play for the Cubs occurs, he is equally as vocal in his displeasure, as is evidenced by his reaction in 1998 when Brant Brown, who was playing left field, dropped a fly ball against Milwaukee during the team's successful run for the Wild Card. Ron also has been known to engage in discussions about his variety of toupees
Santo died on December 3, 2010 in a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, due to complications from bladder cancer and diabetes.
- Magazine covers
- List of top 500 Major League Baseball home run hitters
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball triples champions
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Ron Santo page - at BaseballLibrary.com - biography and career highlights
- Santo page - at Baseball Almanac.com
- Articles examining Ron Santo's merits for Hall of Fame election:
- Photos of Ron Santo and related memorabilia - Cubs Ryan O'Malley and Ron Santo visit - springfieldphotos.blogspot.com - Thursday, October 12, 2006
- "The Top 100 Cubs Of All Time - #7 Ron Santo" at Bleed Cubbie Blue
|Awards and achievements|
|Topps Rookie All-Star Third Baseman
|Major League Player of the Month
|Lou Gehrig Memorial Award