Ron Santo: HoF Entree, HoPIL Oustee

The Hall of People I Like, or HoPIL (see the page here), has been an installment at The Fair Base Ballist since February of 2011. For my uninformed readers, it is a page I created in which to enshrine ballplayers of whom I am fond, and who are either active and not members of the Chicago Cubs, or inactive and not members of Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

The rules of the HoPIL disqualify current Cubs (because I pretty much love them all, so what would the point be?) and HoF inductees (because they have been publicly acknowledged as special and don’t need me anymore). Should a member of the HoPIL eventually fail to meet these requirements, they are to be cast out of it with much joy and dancing.

It is indeed with much joy and dancing, and with a little tear in my eye that I officially oust Ron Santo from the HoPIL today. As he is now enshrined forever in the halls of Cooperstown, he cannot belong to my silly institution any longer. The expulsion could not be more richly deserved by anyone.

Congratulations, Ronnie. We’ll love you always.

Cubs players honored Ron yesterday by clicking their heels as they took the field in St. Louis. You can see the video of their tribute here.

 

 

 

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Bittersweet Justice

If life were fair, Ron Santo would have been enshrined into Baseball’s Hall of Fame many, many years ago. He would have been here to enjoy the honor and his induction speech, in all great likelihood, would have been one for the ages.

Life isn’t always fair. Today it feels particularly bittersweet. But justice has been served, at long last. And it’s a good thing.

Congrats, Ronnie… we love you and miss you and we wish you were here to enjoy this great news with us.

SABR Day 2011 Recap

It isn’t very often that I find myself in a room full of people feeling that my baseball knowledge is puny in comparison to theirs. Even in good company, I usually feel pretty confident in my baseball IQ. Such was not the case this past Saturday, when I was fortunate enough to be able to attend an annual gathering of SABR enthusiasts in the DC area. These people (consisting mostly of men with gray hair, bifocals and tucked-in shirts) know their stuff. Like, really.

Before I go any further, I have to say thanks to my friend and long time FBB-supporter Aaron, for letting me tag along with him to this event. Also, despite his best efforts, I did not end up falling for any of the younger eligible geeky baseball boys at the conference. Sorry, grungy Tiger guy.

Ahem… moving on! I present you with my signature amateurish rundown of the day’s events:

The first speaker (whose name I could tell you if I had taken notes instead of just doodling) gave a discourse on the subject of umpires. More specifically, what the lives of MLB umps are like given that they are on the road almost constantly. Unlike players, they do not get home games. I have been somewhat determined to give umpires more respect since seeing Doug Harvey’s Hall of Fame induction speech this past summer, and this talk only backed that up.

Following Mr. Nameless was architect Marshall Purnell, who spoke on the planning and construction of Nationals Park. Do you know why the Nats’ home clubhouse is oval-shaped? I do.

Following an hour’s break for lunch, David Smith (who, apparently, is the crown prince of random statistics) took the podium. He primarily discussed various strange occurrences of the 2010 season, comparing them to similar events historically. Walk-off strikeouts, catchers interferences, stuff like that. These are the sorts of stats that I eat up with a spoon, so I was highly entertained by this segment. One anecdote particularly fascinated me. It pertains to Ron Santo. According to Mr. Smith, one-in-eight of Ronnie’s career at-bats came against future Hall of Fame pitchers. One in eight. I don’t even know how that’s possible. Chalk another one up for #10, eh?

The “specialest” speaker of the day was acclaimed baseball biographer and NY Times bestselling author Jane Leavy. She spoke at length about Mickey Mantle, the tape-measure home run he hit at Washington’s Griffith Stadium in April of 1953, and the tracking down of the boy who’d found that actual home-run ball, way back when. It was a pleasure to be sitting there.

Miss Leavy was joined by Prof. Alan Nathan, who provided some very detailed analysis on the physics of Mr. Mantle’s Washington moonshot. I once tried to read Robert Adair’s book The Physics of Baseball and gave up after about a page and a half. Needless to say, most of Prof. Nathan’s words went right over my head. I’m pretty sure the conclusion was that the ball traveled a minimum of 538 feet. That’s far.

Remind me to take better notes if I make it back to this event next year…

2011 Cubs Convention Recap

A good chunk of this post ought to have been put up yesterday. Since that didn’t end up happening, however, I’m just gonna cram it all in today. Double your pleasure, double your fun!

I’m going to plunge right in and try to hit on the highlights. If you’re interested in a more comprehensive recap, look no further than ChicagoCubsOnline.com. They’ve got days 1, 2, AND 3 covered, with actual play-by-play of many of the seminars. So three cheers for the folks at CCO and their fantastical work!

The boys in blue look on during Opening Ceremonies on Friday. Continue reading

Media Monday: “What’s YOUR favorite cake?”

Movie (or, today, “Media”) Monday is all about Ron Santo this week. Enjoy.

I never thought I’d say this, but you simply must check out these two posts from the blog of Dave Kaplan. They feature an awesome variety of classic Pat and Ron sound clips, along with a video or two.

Lookit! It’s the “Kumbaya” clip. One of my favorites. *Giggle* *Sniff*

And here is the yogurt machine bit, just for Melinda.

Saying Goodbye: Ron Santo

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.

Goodbye, #10. You were loved and you will be missed.

 

“When putting away your luggage after arriving home, always close the zippers so bugs can’t crawl in.”

Author’s Note: The following post includes significant Starlin Castro-inspired enthusiasm. Nothing that has happened since his stellar debut has really dampened my excitement over him, and it is my opinion that the individuals who booed Starlin during last night’s game should all be hit square in the face with a sock full of pennies.

I hope nobody will hate me for relating every minute detail of the little trip I went on last week. Friday’s game was by far the best Cubs one I have ever been to in person, and the entire day was just flat out awesome. If it ever sounds like I’m bragging, forgive me. I am not trying to… I honestly had an incredible few days and count them as a tremendous blessing. If I could give everyone a little of my leftover joy, I would. And Cubs Nation would have a few more happy campers. Continue reading