It’s a sad day for Cubs Nation. We’ve known a lot of sad days, but this is different. Today we lost one of our own. Ron Santo was not just a legendary third baseman, he was the most passionate Cubs fan that ever lived. I never saw him play, but I’ll always remember and cherish Ronnie’s days as the Cubs color man for WGN radio. Kerry Wood called him the epitome of Chicago baseball, and he was right. My Twitter-feed was flooded, I mean flooded with sad messages and fond remembrances. Everybody had something to say about Ron, even the non-Cubs people. Even the non-baseball people.
Cubs radio broadcasts won’t be the same. Listening to Pat and Ron call the game on a summer afternoon was one of my greatest joys. It really didn’t matter how the team was doing. Those guys’ often-hilarious banter made even the worst games, the worst seasons bearable. Everyone remembers the great Shea Stadium toupee fire, the frozen yogurt story, the Brant Brown incident. Any time Pat started poking fun at Ron about his “wealth,” it was sure to produce a chuckle.
One of my recent favorites was in 2009 when Ronnie sang Kumbaya on the air (in keys I didn’t even know existed.) The conversation in the booth had gone from the pronunciation of names to Joel Zumaya to the song Kumbaya. Judd Sirott produced some lyrics. “Pat,” Ron said in a serious tone before he started to sing, “I think we should hold hands.” Then there was a game in late 2008 when they were describing the interesting ride they had from the ballpark in Milwaukee to the hotel. I was almost in tears from laughing. I wish I could reproduce that conversation. And I loved it when, in the ninth inning of Carlos Zambrano’s no-hitter, Ron sort of giddily whispers, “I think I know who the Chevrolet player of the game is.” The list could go on and on and on. I would love to hear everyone else’s favorite Ronnie moments.
Although it is tempting, I’m not going to hurl any bitter exclamations at the Hall of Fame. We all know Ron Santo belongs there. But there are more important things in life than that. Ron did something that a lot of Hall of Famers never did, something a lot of future Hall of Famers will never do. He touched peoples lives.