Remembering Ron Santo
I woke up this morning to the news that Cubs legendary player and announcer Ron Santo had passed away. My first emotion like many who heard the news was profound sadness for a guy that gave his life to the Cubs, a good guy who suffered many years with a horrible disease that broke him down at the end of his life. A guy that dedicated himself to raising money for juvenile diabetes so that others might not have to suffer like him. But as the morning went on, my sadness turned to bitterness and anger and that is how I feel right now.
Am I angry that Ron Santo was not elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame? Of course not, and I take exception to anyone that makes Ron Santo a victim for not being elected. First off, he was never voted in and that tells you that most people did not think he had the qualifications to be enshrined. His numbers show that he had a great baseball career but he’s certainly not a clear-cut choice for the Hall. I also take issue with people that think Santo should have been inducted because he was sick and because he REALLY wanted it. That is not what the Hall of Fame is about, and I for one really hope Ron Santo passed away with a clear mind, knowing that he did not need that award to justify a great baseball career as a player and broadcaster.
The Curse of Curses
No, that is not why I am angry. My bitterness stems from the “ultimate” Cub fan, the guy who you can honestly say was the biggest fan, dying after 70 years on this earth without ever seeing the Cubs win the World Series. If you open the obituary this morning you will see many people who passed away who were life-long Cub fans and never lived to see the moment that we have all waited so many years to see. But for Santo it goes way past the average Cub fan. He played 13 years for the Cubs and was ever so close during the infamous 1969 Cub season. He was the Cubs radio announcer for 20 years and saw so many heartbreaking moments that he lived through, screamed through, and cried through, all on the air for the world to hear. Many did not like him as a broadcaster and that is fine, but even those people can’t question his love and passion for the Cubs and his everlasting wish: to see the Cubs win it all.
I am angry at Leo Durocher, Herman Franks, Dallas Green, The Wrigley Family, the Tribune and Tom Ricketts…..all people that have played a part in 101 years of futility. I hear Blackhawk fans complaining about the Hawks’ “slow” start this year and I just want to strangle each and every one of them. How about this, um, shut your mouth maybe? Enjoy the fact that your team won it all in your lifetime – that can never be taken away from you and every time you walk into the United Center you can look up and know you lived to see the Hawks win the Cup.
I am angry at Jim Frey, Leon Durham, Alex Gonzalex, Josh Beckett, Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella…..more people that contributed to us never getting to see the Cubs win it all just once. The Bulls spoiled us more than most people can ever comprehend with 6 NBA titles in a 10 year period. If they never win again we got more than we ever deserved in Chicago.
I am angry at Frank Chance, Joe Tinker, Ivan Dejesus, Rogers Hornsby, Bobby Jenks and Scott Posednik…..some of them spent the early part of Cubs history mired in failure while a few others made me vomit as I watched that team from the south side end a curse of their own.
I am angry at Andy MacPhail, Rich Gossage, Juan Pierre, Rick Reuschel, Ryne Sandberg, and yes, Jim Hendry…..so many years and so many millions of Cub fans that can’t even say they saw it once. Even Karl-Heinz Granitza and the 1981 Sting Soccer team had their 15 minutes of fame when they beat the New York Cosmos to win the NASL title at Old Comiskey Park.
I am angry at Mark Grace, Will Clark, Kerry Wood, Lee Elia, Charlie Grimm, Don Zimmer, and Frank Selee…..who managed the Cubs in 1902. Really Frank? You could not have stopped this insanity before it started? Even our beloved Bears gave us the ultimate glory of a Super Bowl title in 1985 dominating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl like no other team has ever done before or since.
And yes, I am angry at the Goat, the Black Cat, the guy that caught the ball, and my father for making me a Cubs fan. But I am what I am and always will be: A Cubs Fan Just Like Ron Santo. When some of my friends, exhausted by the misery of being a Cubs fan, talked recently about switching allegiance to the south side baseball team, I said go ahead. I may very well one day wind up in the obituary having never seen the Cubs win the World Series, but I will do so with the same passion and love that Ron Santo always had for the Cubs. I am angry today that Ron Santo’s 70 years did not include a World Series for him and I can only hope the rest of us see it in our liftetime….just once.