Ron Santo and the HOF

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Ron Santo’s death.

I don’t know what else there is to say about Ron Santo’s Hall of Fame chances that hasn’t already been said. Last year, mb21 wrote these two articles about Santo’s career and how he stacks up with other third basemen in the HOF.

Ron Santo’s Hall of Fame Career
Hall of Fame 3rd Basemen and Ron Santo

Bill James and other researchers have said that he is long overdue for election, including this choice quote from James in his excellent Historical Baseball Abstract.

Look, certain things just do not happen. Rivers do not run uphill, iron does not become gold, time does not go backward, whores do not become virgins, pigs do not give birth to lions, supermodels do not marry auto mechanics, and politicians do not forget about the next election. There is no alchemy by which the Hall of Fame may become what it never has been. Ron Santo towers far above the real standard of the Hall of Fame.

Berselius: Ron Santo was a big reason why I became such a big Cubs fan. I was a casual fan of the team growing up but when I got to college I began regularly listening to the Pat and Ron show on WGN radio. After the movie This Old Cub was released a few years ago, I would always watch it at the beginning of the season. After Ronnie died last year it was still too soon to watch by the time spring training rolled around. It’s still too soon now. I’m not getting my hopes up for Santo’s election this year given how many times we’ve been disappointed in the past, but even if it does happen I don’t know when I’ll be ready again. We all lost something the day Ron Santo died, and when the Cubs finally win it all it won’t be the same without him at the microphone.

And Counting: Ron Santo never let diabetes break him. It shortened his career, but he still put up HOF numbers. It took his legs, but he still walked. It ended hs life, but it never stopped him from squeezing every last drop of life from the moments he had. I’ll never forget the story of Ronnie’s final night when his children held vigil as he held on for what everyone knew were his last breaths. After a long night of having his family by his side, the kids finally agreed to leave him alone. It wasn’t until the room was empty that Ronnie’s stubborn pride and unconquerable heart allowed him to finally let go. He wouldn’t let anyone see him die. 

Ron didn’t let anyone see that diabetes got to him, which is fascinating when compared with how a Ryan Theriot TOOTBLAN affected Ron. Lose a limb? Poker face. Get thrown out at third? NOOOO!!!! What is WRONG with this man? GOSH!!! The stuff that really hurt Ron, he kept hidden. The more superficial things like Cubs baseball and Pat Hughes’ wardrobe sent him into fits.

The Hall of Fame? That was somewhere in between. The first time Ron became eligibl for election by the veterans committee, he thought he was in. He was waiting by the phone. The media was on hand, friends and family were poised to congratulate him. It was no secret to anyone that his heart was broken by the call that never came. Ron didn’t hide his pain, but he didn’t prolong it either. He expressed his disappointment. He moved on. Later announcements didn’t phase him as much. He seemed to assume the worst, that he was never getting in. And if the Hall of Fame wasn’t good enough for him in life, he didn’t want to get in after his life was over.

For the joke the Hall of Fame election process has become, being a member of the Hall hasn’t lost its honor. For those who have been inducted and lived to enjoy it, the fraternity is sacred. That Ron Santo never got to enjoy that is a disgrace. And the members of the Hall are the ones who missed out; Ron Santo’s friendship and loyalty and spirit would have made that group of men better.

The indignity of Ron Santo’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame during his life is a tragedy that can’t be fixed. But the idiocy of failing to acknowledge his baseball accomplishments can and should be fixed. Not for the consciences of the morons who kept him out this long. Not because it’s what Ron would have wanted. And not because the Hall of Fame can be trusted to accurately portray the history of the game we all love. But for the memory of Ron and the fans of this game who look to perserve the best parts of baseball’s history in their minds and hearts, Ron should be in the Hall. When the question is asked, “Who were the best third basemen of all time?” Ron Santo needs to be included in that answer.

Aisle 424: I woke up this morning knowing today was the anniversary of Ronnie’s passing and immediately flashed back to a year ago when I was awoken by my clock radio tuned to Mike & Mike on ESPN talking about Ron Santo.  As I listened to the broadcast I became increasingly aware that something was wrong, and as it dawned on me what happened, I started to feel ill.  Sure enough as I pulled up Twitter and saw my entire feed filled with Cubs fans mourning, Mike Greenberg said the actual words that Ronnie had passed away.  It was like a punch in the stomach.

Now, here we are a year later and Cubs broadcasts, while maybe a little more informative with Keith in the booth, are decidedly less entertaining without Ron.  In a way, I’m kind of glad Ron missed last season, because it would have been about 90% moaning with the remaining 10% filled in with GOSH!es and JEEZE!s.  Maybe an occasional YES!!!, but those would have been few and very far between. But now he is missing out on the dawning of the Age of Theo.  I think he would have been very excited about the possibilities, even if maybe he didn’t fully understand Theo’s methods.

Plus, this year Ron is up for induction into the Hall of Fame through the new procedure put in place because the Veteran’s Committee hardly ever actually inducted anyone.  I don’t know how I feel about it.  I think I’m going to be pissed off no matter how it comes down.  If he doesn’t get inducted, I’m going to be pissed that someone who pretty clearly deserves to be inducted is left out yet again.  MB put it pretty well in the 2nd link above:

Santo has more WAR than 7 of the HOF [3rd basemen] and only 5 have more WAR than him.  He has more than the average of those players.  Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame.  Santo raises the bar if elected in.  Think about that.  A player that actually improves the average is not in.  That’s fucked up.

But if he gets in now after he died?  That is almost as fucked up as if he never made it at all.  I mean, he SHOULD get in because the Hall of Fame would be better off with him, but at this point I just don’t care about the Hall of Fame.  Ron has said he didn’t want to go in posthumously and both the writers and the Veterans had plenty of opportunity to do the right thing and put him in, so fuck them now.  Why should they get to congratulate each other and feel all benevolent like they let the homeless man into the private club to have a sandwich?  

In the end, I guess I want him to get elected and I know it will mean a lot to his family, but I’m going to be pretty fucking pissed either way.  Ronnie deserved to see the honor himself, but hopefully he is looking down and he’ll be happy.  We miss you Ron.


(photo by Kris Peterson)


About berselius

We're gonna make it.