What I Learned From Ron Santo

What I Learned From Ron Santo

I'm about as bitter of a sports fan as they come.

Well, correction, I used to be one of the most bitter sports fans you'd run into.  These days, after the birth of my two children, I have a bit more of a life perspective that doesn't make sports the end-all-be-all that it used to be.

Yet, even with the joy children can bring, I still occasionally get too emotional over a victory or defeat.

And you know what?  It's okay.

Its okay to be a fan.

Ron Santo got to the Cubs radio booth in 1990 with a reputation much different than the one that prevails today.  Santo was still known around Chicago for two embarrassing moments: 1) His calling out of Don Young during the 1969 pennant race and 2) His ridiculous verbal musings with Leo Durocher and Cubs management; ultimately leading to his dismissal to the south side.

While Harry Caray was the ultimate promoter of his generation, Santo was the ultimate Cub.  Harry had taken his act from the Cardinals, A's, and White Sox.  He was a promoter first, a baseball fan second...this is why Harry could've broadcasted successfully anywhere in America.  Chicago wasn't special to Harry.  If it was Detroit, he'd make the Tigers an event.  If it were the Twins...same thing.

On the other side, Ron Santo was #1) a Cubs fan and #2) anything else.

This isn't to dismiss Harry's impact...but Ronny was 'us'.  He bitched after a bad call, he silently questioned baffling strategies, he gave suggestions to players as they walked back to the dugout, he became exasperated when it seemed nothing would come right, but most of all...he celebrated.

You know, it's okay to celebrate.  It's okay to be a fan.  It's okay to be happy.  It's okay to pretend you're seven years old again and Andre Dawson has just hit another game-winning home run.  Its okay be the nine year-old celebrating Kessinger's game-saving catch.  Did you run around the block after Tuffy Rhodes' third home run?  Did you go nuts after Kerry Wood's 20th strikeout?  Could you believe it when the Cubs came back from 21-9 down to tie the Phils in '79?

Yell.  It's okay.  Roll down your car window and randomly scream at the guy in the car next to you.  It's okay.  You wanna know why?

Because it's sports.

In our lives, the areas where we can act like kids again are scarce.  If you do it at work, you wind up in HR.  If you do it at home, you wind up with a p-ed off significant other.

Ronny's passion made my open stupidity seems slightly less moronic.

At least I knew I wasn't alone.

And just like Ronny, Pat Hughes was always there to calm us down or give us some comedic thought to chew on.

The final months of 2001 and 2004 were tough...so were the postseasons of 1998, 2003, 2007, and 2008.

However, with Ronny there, it was going to be okay.

On Saturday, Ron Santo will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Many will cheer, some will cry, and I'll just try to find some point that day to yell at my TV for no apparent reason.

Because it's okay to be a fan.

Leave a comment