I woke up on Friday, December 3rd, like all the other Cubs fans, to the news that Ron Santo, the team's radio "analyst" and popular ex-player, had passed away of complications due to cancer.
Santo was not the best broadcaster, let's face it. He was a total homer, and his analysis left something to be desired. Pat Hughes, an excellent play-by-play radio voice, sort of left Ron to his devices, to the amusement of the radio audience and perhaps to himself also! An aside: One time when Hughes was sick, I heard a broadcast (during spring training, I believe) where Steve Stone, a top flight analyst himself, subbed as play-by-play man in the booth. I never, never, never heard Ron Santo sound better - Stone was setting him up for real analysis, and I was surprised to learn that he really did have it in him. He was not the lovable babbling superfan that we often heard with Hughes.
But I grew up in the late 60's, and watched Santo man the hot corner for the Cubs. Back then I watched a lot of baseball, and Santo could pick it with the best of them. He was only a little behind Brooks Robinson in the field, and I'd rather have had Santo coming to bat with men on base. He was my favorite player, so perhaps I'm biased a bit, but I see him as the best NL third baseman of his era.
We learned later that he played with diabetes, and did so at a high level for many years. He was a Cubs icon, if not for his work in the booth (where many would disagree with me - they loved him as a broadcaster), then for his contributions on the field.
RIP #10. It is fitting that no other Cub will ever wear that number.