Ron Santo Elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee
- Updated: December 6, 2011
Ron Santo spent 14 of his 15-year career as a professional baseball player with the Chicago Cubs before he joined their broadcasting team. He was the self-described “single biggest Cubs fan of all time.” He was vocal on and off the field too, especially when it came to his desire to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
Santo had fallen short of being voted in over and over again (15 years to be exact), but today his wish was finally granted. He was voted into the Hall of Fame, receiving 15 votes from the 16-voter panel of the HoF Veterans Committee. Sadly, Santo passed away just over a year ago after suffering from diabetes and bladder cancer.
A few people argue that Santo was a great player, but not worthy of the Hall of Fame. I couldn’t disagree more with these people. Sometimes there are circumstances that need to be taken into account when it comes to voting a player in.
Santo was forced to retire at the age of 34 because of his illness. He was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18 but he didn’t make it known for the majority of his career. Doctors gave him a life expectancy of only 25 years. He continued to battle on despite the odds stacking up quickly against him. He would eat candy bars in the clubhouse to keep his blood sugar up during games.
Santo didn’t reach the milestones that usually make a career considered Hall of Fame worthy: 3,000 hits and 500 homeruns. But at the time of his retirement, not many others at his position had reached those stats either, so it’s not surprising he didn’t meet those criteria. Santo did win five Gold Gloves and played in nine all-star games.
More importantly, he was able to do all that while fighting through an illness. If he was healthy, his career may have been another 10 years longer. Detractors also point to the fact that Santo never reached the postseason. While that is true, the blame for it shouldn’t fall directly on Santo. The pitching staff had breakdowns and the team around him wasn’t as good as the competition. After the playoff argument, people talk about how he only hit .277 for his career. Statistics show that his OPS would have him right in the mix with the other third basemen that are currently in the Hall of Fame.
His commitment to the Cubs should count for something too. If you ever listened to him call a game with Pat Hughes, it was impossible to not hear his passion. I had to redo my home theater design to get better speakers just so that I could catch the excitement in his voice with every homerun or the disgust of an error or tough loss. Santo was great with fans and he genuinely cared about the Chicago Cubs organization.
He wasn’t happy about being repeatedly snubbed from the Hall of Fame, but in 2003, when the Cubs honored him by retiring his number 10 jersey he yelled out, “this is my Hall of Fame.” Well Ron, it’s a shame you weren’t able to be here for this honor, but now you made it, you’re in the Hall of Fame.