Several beloved voices of various MLB teams have passed away recently. Until now they were only names to me considering I didn’t particularly follow those teams closely. But, as all Cubs fans have echoed, Ron Santo’s passing isn’t going to settle any time in the near future.
For those that do not follow the Cubs radio team of Santo and Pat Hughes, Santo’s unadulterated passion for the Cubs franchise was unmatched (in my personal opinion). In a politically correct, unbiased world of sports broadcasting Santo was unabashedly bled Cubs blue. When the Cubs won he was genuinely happy and when they lost he felt it as much as the players. Maybe even more so. Some broadcasters possess legendary home run calls or well known catchphrases. Santo, to me at least, will forever be known for his frustrated exclamations of, “GOD!” whenever things didn’t go the Cubs way. That, or the always laughable “GEEEESE!”.
Nothing was harder than the days leading up to and following each year’s HOF voting. I would assume most professional ball players want to be inducted to Cooperstown, yet none seemed to care as much as Santo. You could hear it in his voice. The way he built himself up each year, trying hard not to get too excited about the vote but still giddy about the possibility of getting his own bronze bust. Unfortunately he never made it in while he was still alive.
I’m no advocate of just letting people into the HOF because they really want in or if they are really nice guys. Santo, however, should get in on merit alone. Much has been discussed about the stats he compiled during the era he played so I won’t get too deep into it. I think he should be in and I’ll leave it at that.
As sad as his passing is for Cubs fans the reason why it is this way is because of how joyous he made it to listen to him do games on the radio. Santo wasn’t the best on the radio. Actually, he was awful at times and that’s what made him so wonderful to listen to. Pat Hughes is one of the best around and was the perfect compliment to the imperfect Santo. Poise teamed with passion. And it worked beautifully.
When I heard the news I said to a friend of mine, who is also a Cubs fan, “I’m not sure when I’ll be able to listen Cubs games again on the radio.” I meant it 5 minutes after the news and I mean it now 5 days after. I doubt my mind will change 5 months from now.
In the spirit of reminiscing I’d like to tell the story of my favorite Ron Santo radio moment. It was 2007 and Santo was attempting to introduce the next Cubs batter; Ronny Cedeno:
Up next for the Cubs is Roger Cendano…Ronny Cedano…Ron…Ronny Ce…Wait…What? Where am I? What day is this?
Ron Santo wasn’t was never perfect but he was perfect for the Chicago Cubs.