December 08, 2010

Goodbye, Ronnie

I've been traveling overseas and missed my chance to react to Santo's death here on the blog. Luckily so many other excellent people have beaten me to the punch (links included at the end of the post).

It's tough to pin any particular reason why we are fans of particular sports teams. Many are fans of teams because they were hometown teams, others (like me) because of family tradition, or simply because for many people the Cubs and the Braves played a lot of games on national TV. I was a Cubs and Yankees fan growing up but couldn't have named more than two players on the team in any given year - I pretty much just watched the World Series and occasional games on WGN when we hooked our cable back up when I was in high school. After I went to college, I started watching more games and, more importantly, started listening to games on the radio. It's safe to say that Ron Santo is the reason why I am the Cubs fan that I am today.

Santo cared too much about the games, and that's why I loved him. It always felt like he was your crazy old uncle or grandfather in the booth. Hughes was always good about giving scores, but if you just tuned in you could always tell how the Cubs were doing by listening to Ron for half a second (or more telling, not hearing him at all). His sheer excitement, especially in the 2008 season (that I caught nearly all of on the radio) was infectious and amplified all of our own excitement. The last two years have not been as kind to him, both medically and emotionally (given the team's performance) but Ron was a guy who never gave up on the team or himself.

After the 2003 postseason raised the stakes for Cubs fans and especially after watching This Old Cub, I knew that when the Cubs eventually did win it all there was no doubt that I'd be sharing the experience with Pat and Ron on the radio. I'd get shivers down my spine just thinking about it. Things didn't work out in 2007 or 2008, and now that Ron is gone we will never get to experience this. When they do win it will still be for him. But it sure would be nicer if he could be there to share it with us.

And Counting
A League Of Her Own
Tales from Aisle 424
Cubs f/x
Suburban Kid from ACB's take on Santo
ACB's look at Santo's HOF-worthy career
ACB on Santo compared to other HOF 3b