Santo was the Cubbies’ most famous non-Hall-of-Famer, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. He was denied entry 19 times.
Santo passed away in Arizona on Thursday after a recent battle with bladder cancer and a half-century fight against diabetes.
Santo became a North Side legend after 14 seasons of Chicago baseball. He spent 13 of those years as the third baseman for the Cubs – and one season he wishes he could strike from the record, a year spent with the enemy on the South Side after a trade to the White Sox. He promptly retired after that season in 1974.
He later sprinted back to his old team on the North side of Chicago, taking a position as a Cubs radio broadcaster. But his overwhelming loyalty to his former team kept his reporting anything but fair and balanced. Santo often expressed his enthusiasm or disappointment toward the Cubs over the airwaves as one of the team’s biggest fans.
“Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans,” said Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs.
Santo would never take to the field again, having both his legs amputated stemming from his worsening diabetes. But he always found the strength to return to Wrigley, continuing his stint as fan and announcer. “Doing the Cubs games is like therapy for me,” he told the Chicago Tribune earlier this season.
Santo’s passing comes after he slipped into a coma Wednesday. As if Cubs fans needed another heartbreak story. (via Chicago Tribune)