Ron Santo, one of the most beloved Chicago Cubs of all time, died Thursday night (Dec. 2) at his home in Arizona. He was 70 years old.
Santo, who played 15 seasons in the major leagues and was a Cubs radio broadcaster for 20 years, died of complications from bladder cancer after falling into a coma Wednesday. He had also suffered from diabetes, which resulted in the amputation of his legs, but continued to work Cubs games, which he said were “like therapy for me.”
“He absolutely loved the Cubs,” Santo’s broadcast partner, Pat Hughes, tells the Chicago Tribune. “The Cubs have lost their biggest fan.”
Santo had a Hall of Fame-worthy career — in an era where power numbers weren’t as prolific, he hit 342 home runs and drove in more than 1,300 runs — but has fallen just short of enshrinement in Cooperstown numerous times. Santo said he was always hopeful that he would get the call, but it never came, a fact he more or less made peace with over the years.
“[Induction] wasn’t going to change my life,” he told the Tribune in 2008. “I’m OK. But I know I’ve earned it.”
Santo was beloved by Cubs fans as a player, and he endeared himself further to the Wrigley Field faithful as a broadcaster — despite his frequent bungling of player names and occasional lapses in concentration. He was an unabashed homer — “I get embarrassed sometimes when I hear what I said, like, ‘Oh, no, what’s going on?’ But it’s an emotion,” he said. “This is being a Cub fan” — but he and Hughes rarely failed to entertain listeners.
Here are two vintage Santo clips, one of his reaction to a blown play at home plate and the other an exchange between him and Hughes over what should be done with a screaming fan in the stands.