It’s a sad day for Cubs Fans today. Cubs legend, former player and voice for the team, Ron Santo passed away overnight from complications from diabetes and a courageous battle with bladder cancer. He was 70.
Cubs chairman, Tom Ricketts said, “My siblings and I first knew Ron Santo as fans, listening to him in the broadcast booth. We knew him for his passion, his loyalty, his great personal courage and his tremendous sense of humor. It was our great honor to get to know him personally in our first year as owners.
Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans. Our thoughts and prayers today are with his wife Vicki and their family and we share with fans across the globe in mourning the loss of our team’s number one fan and one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game.”
Mr. Santo spent 14 years in the major leagues from 1960 – 1974, mainly playing 3rd base for the Chicago Cubs. On June 22, 1969, he became known for a heel click, against the Montreal Expos. Entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Expos were leading 6 to 3. One out was on the board and second baseman Paul Popovich hit a single, he advanced to second base after another single by left fielder Billy Williams. Although Santo grounded out for the second out, Popovich and Williams advanced a base. Then first baseman Ernie Banks, hit a single to bring home Williams and Popovich and bring the Cubs within a run. Rick Bladt substituted as a pinch-runner for Banks. That set it up for Cubs right fielder Jim Hickman, who hit a two-run walk-off home run to take the game, 7-6. When Hickman reached home plate, Santo was so exhilarated that after congratulating him by embracing and knocking him on his head, Santo took off down the third base line and jumped three times, clicking his heels on each jump.
Ron Santo has been a long time fan-favorite for being inducted into the Hall of Fame. He first became eligible in 1980. It has been a long, sad journey for him and his quest for admission. He finished finished first in voting for the 2007 and 2009 inductions, but fell short of the required number of votes each year. After further major changes to the Veterans Committee voting process announced in 2010, Santo’s next opportunity for admission would be the class of 2012. The Cubs retired his jersey on September 28, 2003, and on that day, Ron said, “This is my Hall of Fame!”
Opening day tickets have gone on sale already for the Chicago Cubs.
RIP, Mr. Santo.