Ron Santo, legendary Chicago Cubs third baseman, dies at 70
Ron Santo, the Chicago Cubs' legendary third baseman and popular announcer, died Thursday in Arizona.
Santo, 70, died of complications from bladder cancer. He played for the Cubs from 1960-73 and for the White Sox in 1974. He began broadcasting Cubs games in 1990, often rooting for the team and expressing frustration -- openly and unapologetically. His press box appearances were memorable; on Opening Day in 2003, his toupee caught fire in the Shea Stadium press box when he got too close to an overhead space heater.
Santo had had a number of medical issues, including diabetes (which he developed at 18 and resulted in amputation of both legs), heart disease and, of course, bladder cancer. "He never complained," Pat Hughes, his broadcast partner, said. "He wanted to have fun. He wanted to talk baseball."
Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, praised Santo's "passion, his loyalty, high great personal courage and his tremendous sense of humor" in a statement released by the team.
Santo, Ricketts said, will always be "the heart and soul of Cubs fans."
"He absolutely loved the Cubs," Hughes, said. "The Cubs have lost their biggest fan."
His death is a reminder that he is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame in spite of numbers that place him among baseball's elite third basemen. He had a lifetime .277 average, hit 342 home runs and drove in 1,331 runs. He was up for the Hall 19 times, then appeared on the Veterans Committee ballot starting in 2003. In 2007 he received 61 percent of the votes from the living Hall of Famers; 75 percent is required.
"I thought it was going to be harder to deal with, but it wasn't," he said of not getting into the Hall in 2007. "I'm just kind of fed up with it. I figure, 'Hey, it's not in the cards.' But I don't want to go through this every two years. It's ridiculous."
Santo did not want to be elected posthumously, either.
"[Induction] wasn't going to change my life," he said. "I'm okay. But I know I've earned it."
Photo gallery: Santo's life in pictures
Baseball Insider: Dave Sheinin on Santo, Palmeiro and the Hall of Fame
A vote for the Hall: Santo is one of the 10 best third basemen ever
| December 3, 2010; 8:35 AM ET
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