RIP Ron Santo, Cubs Legend

I’d often wince at the thought of Ron Santo leaving us in the middle of a Cubs Mets game at New York, in one of the late innings when Carlos Marmol or [fill-in-the-blank] inevitably loads the basis before retiring the side and saving the game.

Obviously this would not be an ideal situation and certainly was not what I hoped for. But it came as quite a disappointment when I heard, early this morning, that Santo passed from complications from a recurrence of bladder cancer at age 70.

I really thought he’d be around to see the Cubs finally win it all. Of course I imagine a Cubs championship as a likelihood every spring, only to have my heartbroken by August and inevitably lose interest in baseball altogether by the time the Wrigley Field ivy starts turning colors. But there were definitely a few seasons over the past decade in which I had a pretty-to-really good feeling that it was going to happen.

Santo raised more than $50 million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund through his annual Walk for the Cure and other charitable activities. Every time a Cubs player was issued a base on balls, Santo took the opportunity to advocate for JDRF, thanks to a partnership in which Walgreens donated $100 to JDRF for every Cubs walk.

So let’s show some appreciation and thanks to #10, one of the greatest Cubs of all time, and see if we can raise 10 grand for JDRF in the name of Ron Santo over the next ten days. It’s as simple as filling in the box below or you can visit: http://www.razoo.com/story/Donate-To-Jdrf-In-Memory-Of-Ron-Santo.

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Ron Santo embodied the spirit of the Cubs and of Cubs fans and unfortunately he also dealt with a lifetime of bad Cubbie luck. Diagnosed with diabetes at age 19, just prior to his rookie season with the Cubs, Santo somehow hid the fact that he was taking insulin from his teammates for most of his playing career. The diabetes eventually led to the need to amputate both of his legs. But he hardly slowed down, wearing prosthetics and still reporting to the ballpark for radio duties. He was too proud and too happy to be at the ballpark to make excuses. In spite of multiple campaigns to vote Santo into the Baseball Hall of Fame he never made it. He remained optimistic 162 games a year in spite of suffering through many of the toughest seasons (along with Ernie Banks and Billy Williams no less) since the Cubs last won a championship, in 1908. Last year he wrote an emotional article about his struggle with diabetes.

So sad that the the last stroke of bad luck would be fatal… after 50 years living with diabetes, it was ultimately cancer that took Ron Santo from us. Perhaps only one season too soon. Next year is nearly here. Rest in Peace, Ronnie!

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