To watch this video trailer for the Ron Santo Documentary, "This Old Cub" is to feel and capture the essence of one of baseball's greatest players ever. And finally today, that greatness has been recognized.
For anyone who has ever seen the film, there is a scene in which Santo awaits a call letting him know if he was voted into The Hall of Fame. The disappointment on his face when he finds out he was not is heartbreaking.
When I first heard the news this morning that his dream had finally been realized I was elated; my eyes filled with tears. Yet, after a few moments I felt anger at the fact that this man, so committed and dedicated to the game of baseball, is not here to experience the joy he so long awaited.
As a young girl, I spent nearly every single day possible at Wrigley Field. Santo and Glenn Beckert were my favorites. I still proudly own my Ron Santo day pin from August 28, 1971 which I wore to opening day this year. I was 13 when I attended that day. And yes, he clicked his heels.
Over the years with my father involved in local politics, he called upon Santo and Beckert to appear at functions to endorse candidates. I was lucky enough to meet Ron at those events and I can vividly recall his sincerity, his smile and his pride of being a Cub.
I kept a very detailed scrapbook of those days. Clippings, stats, photos, score cards, you name it. I treasured that book. As an adult, I would go through it and recall the glory days and miss seeing Ron play. When he opened one of his restaurants in Libertyville, I was determined to show him that scrapbook.
I called ahead one Friday and found out he planned to be there that night. I dragged my entire family there for dinner, book in hand and went right up to him upon entering. I told him I was his biggest fan - I wanted to share with him my memories of his days with the Cubs.
To my amazement, he sat with us through our entire meal. He went through every page of that scrapbook; told me it was better than one he had kept for himself. We talked and talked about his days on the field; I told him how I would pray for him that someday he would make it into the Hall of Fame. I never suspected at that time that it would be a posthumous election.
To me, Ron Santo defined baseball. He also defined what type of person we should all hope to be. He overcame what some people would see as insurmountable odds with his health. He was humble, never letting his fame go to his head. Just read the testimonies to him in the book "Perfect 10".
So today is a big day. I am sure hundreds of sportswriters and bloggers will be writing about his trip to Cooperstown. I feel lucky that mine is a very personal one; that I had the great fortune to meet The Old Cub. My heart breaks that he is not here today; that we could not witness his joy is receiving an honor he so long awaited.
As others are stating, this year his statistics have not changed. He was the same player in all the other elections. Instead of saying "why now?" let's just say "why not now". Through my ever rosy, rose colored glasses I have to say that it's better late than never. That somehow he knows. And those beloved heels have been clicking somewhere all day.