Santo debuts with five RBI in doubleheader for Cubs

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Andrew Kivette

The 1960 edition of the Chicago Cubs finished seventh in the National League, lurking near the cellar and tallying a record of 60-94. There were bright spots on the 94th Cubs team, however.

On June 26, the Cubs started a promising rookie – 20-year old Ron Santo would get the nod at third base for a doubleheader against the Pirates. Santo had apparently made the team out of Spring Training but Cubs general manager at the time, John Holland, optioned him to Triple-A at the start of the season.

He was called up the day of the doubleheader, and in his first at-bat Santo would record his first major league hit – a single. Batting sixth, Santo went 3-for-7 while adding five RBI in aiding the Chicago Cubs in a doubleheader sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I (had) never been in a big league park,” Santo said of the experience at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. “I was just amazed.”

During his rookie year, Santo carried a .251 batting average and tacked on nine home runs and 44 runs batted in, while appearing in 95 games and starting 94. “Ronnie” – as he was known with fans and media alike – finished fourth in Rookie of the Year balloting as well in 1960.

Santo’s career credentials were quite illustrious. During his 15-year career, the native of Seattle, Wash., batted .277 with 342 career home runs, but was also known for his fielding. In his 15 year career, Santo racked up five straight Gold Glove Awards from 1964-68 for his stellar play at the hot corner.

In addition to fielding, Ron Santo was famous for being able to hit in the clutch and when his team needed to be picked up the most. The third baseman had a noticeably higher batting average with runners in scoring position.

“Clutch hitting is the key to a ball club’s offense and Santo consistently proved his ability to deliver the crucial hits,” Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Brosnan said of Santo.

Santo never played for any team outside of the Chicago area – playing at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs for the first 14 years, and finishing his career on the Southside with the White Sox for his final year in 1974. In 15 years of service, he was a nine-time All-Star and finished in the top-five in National League MVP voting twice.

Even though the third baseman ended his career with the White Sox, Santo was a Cub for life. After ending his playing days in 1974, Santo entered the business world, but returned to the North Side as a radio broadcaster in 1990 for his beloved Cubs.

In 2003, Santo was honored by having his jersey retired by the Chicago Cubs.

Overall, the 1960 Cubs squad featured four future Hall of Famers including Richie Ashburn, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Santo.

Santo was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012. He passed away on Dec. 2, 2010.

“In a city that loved people with one name -- Jordan … Ditka … Sweetness … Ernie …it’s not an exaggeration to say the name they loved the most was Ronnie,” editor Nick Pietruszkiewicz said of Santo.

Andrew Kivette was the 2013 public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series