Thursday, January 1, 2009

This Old Cub

If you are from anywhere other than Chicago, there is probably a really good chance that you have never heard the name Ron Santo. In Chicago his is a household name. I listen to the Cubs games now on the radio via the net and I think he is the worst announcer I have ever heard ... but he is not famous for being an announcer. He was the Cubs third baseman during the famous 1969 season. Every baseball fan remembers the '69 season for the Miracle Mets. The New York Mets were an expansion team in 1962, they were the worst in the league their entire history up that point but late in the 1969 season came out of no where with a surge in September while the Cubs were slumping. The Cubs went 9 and 16 the last 25 games of the year while the Mets went 27 and 11 in their last 48. The last series of the year they played head to head ... the rest is baseball history. The Mets went to the World Series and beat the best team in baseball that year, the Baltimore Orioles. The Cubs team that year was probably the best team they have had in a century with an all star infield with such greats on the team as Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Fergie Jenkins.

At the age of 18, Ron was diagnosed with diabetes. He was expected not to live to the age 25. The entire time he was on the Cubs, only the team doctor knew he had diabetes. The technology to check your own blood sugar didn't exist at the time. He had to monitor himself by how he felt. He kept a candy bar in the dugout with him at all times. Both his legs have been amputated due to diabetes, the right in 2001 and the left the next year. He still announces for the Cubs.

When he was drafted as a teenager every major league team had made him an offer, the Cubs offered him the least amount of money. He chose the Cubs for two reasons Ernie Banks and Wrigley Field. If you ever been lucky enough to see Ernie Banks play you'd know why ... and Wrigley Field, do I really have to say more? He and Ernie have played more games together than any other two players in Major League Baseball history. Since he left the team in 1973, the Cubs have had over 100 third basemen.

He has not yet been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and probably won't be, but hasn't affect his popularity in Chicago. His offensive numbers probably don't justify him being in the hallowed hall, but his defensive numbers more than make up for them.

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