Legendary Chicago Cub and Cubs radio broadcaster, Ron Santo, died Thursday, December 2, 2010 of complications from bladder cancer and diabetes.
[photogallerylink id=41207 align=left]Friends of Santo’s family said the North Side icon lapsed into a coma on Wednesday before passing away Thursday. Remember Ron Santo with recent photos. He will be missed in Chicago.
Santo played for the Chicago Cubs from 1960 until 1973. He was a 9 time all-star and 5 time gold glove winner. Santo boasted a career .277 batting average while hitting 342 home runs and driving in 1,331 runs. Santo’s numbers are in the top five for players to never make the playoffs. His number was retired by the Chicago Cubs in 2003.
Some Memorable Ron Santo Moments
Ron Santo “Heel Click”
Santo gained notoriety in 1969 for his memorable “heel clicks” after home victories at Wrigley Field. The whole celebration started after the Cubs beat the Montreal Expos in come-from-behind fashion on June 22nd, 1969. Santo was so excited he jumped three times down the third base line, clicking his heels on each jump. Manager Leo Durocher later asked him to keep clicking his heels after every home game to fire up the team. While Cub fans loved it, players on other teams didn’t think so highly of it.
Santo and the Black Cat
During 1969 season the Chicago Cubs held a commanding lead over the New York Mets in the National League East. But by September the lead had diminished to only a 1.5 game lead over the Mets. On September 8th, 1969, a fan let loose a black cat on to the field at Shea Stadium while the Mets and Cubs were playing. The black feline headed straight for the Cubs dugout as Ron Santo waited in the on-deck circle. A photographer snapped one of the most famous Cubs photos ever, further signifying the Cubs curse of never winning.
Santo Vetoes a Trade
Following the 1972 Major League Baseball Strike, the league added a new clause that gave players the right to veto a trade if they had been in the league for 10 years and the last 5 years with the same team. Later that year the Cubs worked out a deal with the California Angels to send Santo to the west coast for two young pitchers. When Santo heard about the deal, he immediately vetoed it, saying he didn’t want to play on the west coast, only in Chicago. He became the first player to enforce this clause and showed his true love for the Cubs in doing so.
The Brant Brown Call
After 16 years of retirement, Santo joined Pat Hughes in 1990 as the Cubs radio color commentator on WGN. He became synonomous for his excitment when the Cubs played well, and his utter frustration when they stunk. One of his most memorable calls happened in 1998 with the Cubs in a playoff hunt for the wildcard spot. Playing the Brewers in Milwaukee, the Cubs had 7-5 lead with two outs left in the bottom of the 9th. Brewer Geoff Jenkins hit a routine fly ball that outfielder Brant Brown lost in the sunlight, and consequently dropped the ball. The error allowed three runs to score, giving the Brewers a victory. Santo in disbeilief, yelled “Nooooooooo! Nooooooooo!” However, the Cubs went on to earn the wildcard spot, making the error meaningless.
Cubs Retire Santo’s Number 10
Ron Santo had been adamant about reaching the Hall of Fame, hoping to join former teammates Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins. He even went as far to invite cameras into his home to see his reaction in anticipation of making the elite club. Instead the video cameras caught a deeply depressed Santo. But on September 28th, 2003, the Chicago Cubs retired Santo’s number 10, raising a flag in Left Field underneath Ernie Banks’ number 14 flag. Santo would give a speech to the Wrigley crowd, saying the number retirement meant more to him than the Hall of Fame.