Santo Makes My Hall of Fame – Oh, and Cooperstown’s Too

After 37 years of retirement, Ron Edward Santo has finally made it to Coopertown.

Problem is, it’s a little late.

The Baseball Hall of Fame should be ashamed. The Veterans Committee elected Ron Santo to the HOF earlier today. For those who aren’t Cubs fans or happened to miss it, Ron Santo passed away on December 3, 2010, barely more than a year ago to this date. Santo was first eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1980. They waited for over 30 years to put him in. His numbers are the same today as they were the day he retired in 1974.

Ron Santo loved his Cubbies more than any person can love a sports team. His dream was to see his Cubs win a World Series. Unfortunately, he never got to see that.

His second dream?

To make it into the Hall of Fame. Ronnie made no bones about it. He wanted in, and he wanted in badly. Again, Ron never got to see this through. Instead, the HOF committee waited until after his death. Essentially, Cooperstown slapped him in the face, saying that Santo has more value in his death than in life.

They could never be more wrong.

Ron Santo was a the type of human being that every single one of us should strive to be. He was one of the most passionate, caring, and stubborn people that this earth has ever seen.

Santo fought Type I Diabetes for most of his life. During Santo’s time playing baseball, the 60’s and 70’s, the methods of regulating diabetes were nowhere near as advanced as they are today. Santo was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 18 with doctors telling him he wouldn’t live past 25.

Being the stubborn man Santo is, he lived until he was 70 years old, nearly thrice his life expectancy.

Santo eventually had to have both of his legs amputated at the knee due to his diabetes. Yet Santo would never talk about those types of negatives, instead choosing to focus on the positives in life. He focused on the fact that he was still alive, had a great family, and still had his beloved Cubbies.

I’ve never been one to have an athlete as a role model. Rarely is there much they do that is really considered all that important to me. After getting my thoughts together to write this, I’ve realized that I have had a change of mind in that regard.

Ron Santo is my role model.

He vowed to take life by the balls and live it the way he wanted to. He made me realize that it isn’t silly at all to care so deeply and be so passionate about things that make no sense at all. This man could love like nobody else. He loved his Cubbies. He loved his family. And he loved Cubs fans whom he has never met in his entire life. It is easy to say that we should all focus on the positives in life, but how many people actually do that? This man did every single day.

Santo was honest with himself and the public. He groaned when something bad happened and enthusiastically screamed when something good happened. Many are criticized for being “too emotional” when in reality we should be criticizing those with no emotion. Showing your emotions is simplest form of honesty. That honesty is really what we all want from a person, right?

We complain about getting a C on a test or not having any beer in the house. This man’s career was cut short, fought diabetes his entire life, and had his legs amputated. He could have complained about how bad “it sucks” but he didn’t.  He was the most inviting and engaging man a person could meet.

I will never be the man that Ron Santo was. No one will. However, I’ll be damned if I don’t try my hardest to be what he was. Ron Santo affected thousands, if not millions of people, positively by simply being true to himself. We should all strive to do the same.

THAT is why he is in my Hall of Fame.

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