By Stan Carlberg | Guest Commentary
Ron Santo‘s “Golden Era” ticket into the National Baseball Hall of Fame had been a long time coming for one of the greatest ambassadors the game has ever known.
This morning’s announcement is sure to satisfy a legion of Cubs fans who followed the late Santo’s playing and broadcasting career.
Sure, Santo may not have compiled the greatest career stats as compared to his new comrades in Cooperstown, but his character, boyish enthusiasm and overall contributions to the game that go well beyond his playing days make him more than worthy of being a permanent resident alongside his Chicago contemporaries Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins.
While Banks will forever hold the title of “Mr. Cub,” most North Siders will argue that nobody had a stronger bond or a longer love affair with the Cubs than Santo. And, he wasn’t a bad player to boot. In a career often overshadowed by his American League counterpart Brooks Robinson, Santo may have been the National League’s best third baseman throughout the majority of his playing career.
With 342 career home runs, 1,331 RBIs, and five Gold Gloves to his name, the nine-time all-star and longtime Cubs broadcaster was a fan favorite since breaking into the big leagues in 1960. His No. 10 was retired by the Cubs in 2003.
Santo’s Rookie Card can be found in the 1961 Topps set, where he is recognized as a Rookie All-Star. He was regularly pictured on the late 1960s and early 1970s Topps Sporting News All-Star subsets and more recently appeared and signed a number of Topps All-Time Fan Favorite cards over the past decade. Shortly after his death last year, Panini America released his final signed card — a Century Collection card seen above.
While his numbers don’t completely reflect his overall contributions to the game and admiration of fans that extend beyond the confines of Wrigley Field, the sacred halls of Cooperstown are where Santo’s accomplishments on the field and in the broadcasting booth belong.