Ron Santo

Ronald Edward Santo
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 2012
Primary team: Chicago Cubs
Primary position: 3rd Baseman

He personified the Chicago Cubs for more than 50 years as a player, a broadcaster and an icon. His legend remains vibrant, a living monument to his love for the game.

Ron Santo played 14 years for the Cubs and one for the White Sox, defining third base play in the 1960s.

Born in Seattle, Wash., Santo grew up to be a talented multi-sport amateur athlete. He began to attract the attention of big league scouts in 1958 as a catcher, and he signed with the Cubs in 1959.

Santo was moved to third base and immediately made an impact in the minors, hitting .327 with 87 RBI for Double-A San Antonio in 1959. The next season, Santo had 32 RBI in 71 games with Triple-A Houston before getting the call to the majors.

In his June 26, 1960 debut against the Pirates, Santo had three hits and five RBI in a double-header sweep. He never appeared in another minor league game.

Santo finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year vote that season despite appearing in only 95 games. The next season, Santo firmly entrenched himself at third base by hitting 23 home runs and driving in 83 runs.

But all the while, Santo was harboring a secret. During a routine physical just before his minor league career began, doctors diagnosed Santo with Type 1 juvenile diabetes. At the time, the life expectancy of a juvenile diabetic was thought to be about 25 years.

Santo was 18. But he educated himself about the disease and taught himself how to administer insulin injections. He kept his secret until 1971, by which time he was a seven-time All-Star.

On the field, Santo developed into a star at the plate and with the glove. He was named to his first All-Star Game in 1963, and won the first of five straight Gold Glove Awards in 1964. From 1963-70, Santo averaged almost 29 homers and 106 RBI per season. He also led the NL in walks four times between 1964 and 1968, and paced the league in on-base percentage twice in that same span.

Santo was a part of a core group of players – including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams – who led the Cubs back into contention in the late 1960s. In 1969, the Cubs paced the newly created NL East for most of the season before fading in September as the Miracle Mets clinched the title.

It would be Santo’s best chance at a postseason appearance that would never come.

Santo made the All-Star team from 1971-73 – giving him nine All-Star berths for his career – but by 1973, the 33-year-old Santo was entering the twilight of his career, with the Cubs slowly dismantling the great core of their 1960s teams. Following the 1973 season – where he hit 20 home runs and drove in 77 runs – Santo became the first player to invoke the new 10-and-5 rule, designed to allow players with 10 years in the big leagues and the last five with the same team, to veto trades. The Cubs tried to trade Santo to the Angels, but Santo rejected it. He later accepted a deal to the cross-town White Sox.

Santo entered the business world after retiring following the 1974 season, but returned to the Cubs in 1990 as a radio broadcaster – quickly winning over a new generation of fans with his unabashed support of the team. Despite numerous illnesses – including heart bypass surgery and bladder cancer – Santo rarely missed work, even after having both legs amputated due to his diabetic condition.

In 2003, the Cubs retired his No. 10.

He finished his career with a .277 average, 342 home runs, 1,331 RBI, 1,108 walks and 1,138 runs scored. Defensively, Santo led all NL second basemen in putouts seven times, assists seven times and total chances nine times – and retired with NL records for most assists in a season by a third baseman, most double plays by a third baseman in a career and most chances accepted at third base.

"What set Ron Santo apart from so many other great ball players were three key ingredients: determination, excellence, and dedication. "
Johnny Bench

Career stats

ESSENTIAL STATS
Year Inducted: 2012
Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
Position Played: 3rd Baseman
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Seattle, Washington
Birth year: 1940
Died: 2010, Scottsdale, Arizona
Played for:
Chicago Cubs (1960-1973)
Chicago White Sox (1974-1974)
CAREER AT A GLANCE
GamesG
2243
At BatsAB
8143
RunsR
1138
HitsH
2254
Doubles2B
365
Triples3B
67
Home RunsHR
342
RBIRBI
1331
Stolen BasesSB
35
WalksBB
- -
Batting AverageBA
.277
OPSOPS
- -
On Base %OBP
.362
Slugging %SLG
.464