Friday, December 3, 2010

Some selfish reflections on the death of Ron Santo

Forgive me for being a bit too personal in this post...this really has little to do with baseball or the Cubs, but at times it's somewhat therapeutic to do this.


The death of Ron Santo has been rather difficult for me to deal with today. I've avoided being online much or looking at Twitter, watch TV or even check the news.

I'm not sure what the deal is.

A little more than a year ago my grandmother died at the age of 98. As some of you might have recalled, I made the point on this site zthat she lived almost a century and still never saw the Cubs win the World Series. She'd watch the games from her little television in her nursing home room when ever she could. You would have thought she could have lived long enough to have seen that World Series title...but no.

I had a rough time coping with her death. Part of the reason I couldn't deal with it was because, frankly, we haven't had too many funerals in my family. We've been very fortunate about that.  I had just started this blog when my grandmother passed away, and for some of the same reasons I felt I should start this blog (basically going through a mid-life crisis), I had a hard time dealing with her death.

So what does this have to do with Ron Santo? Well, I think we would all agree that Ronnie was one of the biggest Cubs fans around. As I stated in my post earlier today, he was happier than anyone when the team did well and was more depressed than anyone when things didn't go too well.

I never met Ron Santo but more than any other Cubs player past or present, I feel like I know him. Hearing his voice on the radio broadcasts, watching “This Old Cub”, seeing him up in the booth every time I go to the ballpark, it all just makes me feel like I've lost another family member. Santo, like my grandmother never saw the Cubs win that World Series title.

I wonder, as I begin to raise my own family, if my two year old daughter or the child we are expecting in January will ever see the same.

With all that said, it makes me reflect upon myself as well.

Santo was 70 when he died. We all know about his constant battle with diabetes which claimed both of his legs and how remarkable it was that he played through that condition.

I turned 35 years old this year...and the realization that this is exactly 1/2 the age of Santo when he died makes me feel a little scared.

Besides that, Ron Santo was 34 years old when he retired.


He retired at an age younger than I currently am. Ron Santo went to 9 All-Star games by that time all while battling a condition that limits the capabilities of most other people who have it. At the age of 35, I'm stuck in a stalled out career working basically one and a half jobs with all I have to show for anything is this stupid little dinky blog where I find it all to easy to go around and rip on people constantly.

But, with Ronnie dying at 70 years old, I've asked these questions... If I live as long as Ron Santo did, does that mean I only have 35 more chances left in my life for the Cubs to make the World Series?, Is that enough? Is there enough time? I know this sounds really stupid...but I begin to see how short life really is.

I also think about the fact that Santo had a reputation for rubbing people the wrong way during his playing days. I have much the same effect on people. But after his playing days, Santo became absolutely adored by people. Did he actually change his personality? I don't know, but this makes me hopeful that some day I'll learn to be a little less abrasive.

A final point that struck me about Santo was that he basically lived two lives...had two careers...and he loved them both. Heck, he was a broadcaster longer than he played professional baseball. I'm stuck in my current career and hate it. Maybe I can find the opportunity to do something that I will enjoy just as Santo did after the age of 35.


So some other random thoughts...

- The Cubs have retired 5 numbers belonging to 6 players. Santo is the first of those players to have died.

- I really don't think that I want Ronnie to get into the Hall of Fame now...if he were to get in during his next chance, I just think it would be a bit of an insult to his memory.

- I know this isn't going to happen, but I don't want Ronnie to be replaced in the booth next season. Pat Hughes can go solo and he did a good job of it when he was up in Milwaukee.

- I wonder when the appropriate time would be, since my previous statement won't come true, to start discussing who will sit in Santo's seat in the booth next year.

- Santo deserves a statue as much as Banks and Williams did.