03 December 2010
This site is a Bulls site, and 99% of the time, it will have posts about the Bulls. But every once in a while, there's that 1% that needs to be talked about. Today, we celebrate the life of a Chicago sports icon and Cubs great, Ron Santo.
I had a lot of thoughts on Santo this morning, as I woke up to the sad news. I couldn't find a way to put my thoughts and feelings into one. That's where my buddy Jeff Wolf stepped in. I couldn't have said it any better. Thanks, Jeff. And R.I.P. Ron Santo. You'll be forever missed.
With the passing of Ron Santo last night, the call from Cubs fans worldwide for his induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame will be stronger than ever. People like Mike Schmidt and Joe Morgan – who have said publicly that too many Veterans’ Committee inductions would cheapen the Hall – will become public enemies No. 1 and 1A among the Wrigley Field faithful.
But if Ron Santo is remembered for anything by our generation, it should not be for his protracted struggle with Hall of Fame candidacy. Because Santo was a shining example of so many other things that far overshadowed his achievements in baseball.
Yes, his years at the hot corner and in the broadcast booth did make him a celebrity of sorts. But Santo used that celebrity to do far more than any Cub has ever done before or since.
He raised millions of dollars in the Chicagoland area in support of finding a cure for juvenile diabetes, the condition he played with for his entire 15-year career. (Why he wasn’t the national face of diabetes I’ll never know – he was certainly more lovable than Wilford Brimley…)
But even without his charitable work, Santo stood out simply as someone who lived life the way more of us ought to live it.
He never let any of the significant obstacles he faced deter him from living the life he wanted. And he never used them as an excuse for anything.
Santo never asked for – or received – special treatment as a player or HOF candidate because of his diabetes. He didn’t even reveal the condition until very late in his career. And he never let if affect his outlook. Even after a quadruple bypass, the amputation of both of his legs below the knee and numerous other medical complications, there was never a moment when Santo wouldn’t be seen smiling, laughing and having a good time.
Sure, it can be said that it was being around the Cubs that kept Santo in such good spirits all these years. But what Ron Santo took from the Cubs and their fans he gave back tenfold in inspiration and as living proof that it’s not what life gives us that matters but what we’re able to make of our life with what we’re given.
Santo was always positive. And nothing could put a damper on his determination.
Nineteen times Ron Santo has been denied entry into baseball’s hall of fame.
But in the hall of fame of the human spirit, he’s always been first-ballot.
- Jeff Wolf
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