By Dave Wischnowsky–
The news was stunning, if not surprising, this morning when I woke up, turned on the TV and learned from the crawl on the screen that Ron Santo had passed away at 70 after a lifetime of health issues.
There’s much that can, and surely will, be said about the Cubs legend today, from his passion for his former team to his clumsy-but-lovable broadcasting style to his playing career. But, right now, I’ll just say this about Ron Santo:
I’ll miss him.
Cubs radio broadcasts – Hughes and Santo were truly a magical combination – just won’t be the same in 2011.
This morning, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts released a statement about Santo, in which he said: “My siblings and I first knew Ron Santo as fans, listening to him in the broadcast booth. We knew him for his passion, his loyalty, his great personal courage and his tremendous sense of humor. It was our great honor to get to know him personally in our first year as owners.
“Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans.”
That he will be. Which begs the question: Does Ron Santo deserve a statue outside Wrigley Field?
In September, after the new statue of Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams was unveiled at the corner of Addison and Sheffield, Cubs president Crane Kenney said to expect more to be built around the ballpark in coming years.
“I think you are seeing the beginning,” Kenney said. “The statues are popular with our fans, and they certainly are a great way to pay tribute to living players that helped put us on the map. And I think it’s fair to say we will probably continue.
“The (Ricketts) family is very cognizant of the role that Ernie (Banks) and Billy and Ron and Fergie (Jenkins) and everyone played in building this great franchise. Rewarding them with small things like statues is the least that we can do.”
Santo, who was famous for not making the Hall of Fame, already has had his number retired by the Cubs. To be honest, I’ve been torn on whether Santo’s career was worthy of a statute if he didn’t also have a plaque in Cooperstown.
With his passing, I don’t think today by any means is the day to make an emotional decision about erecting a monument recognizing his Cubs career. But, with what Santo meant to the team on the field, in the broadcasters booth and in the hearts of many fans, I wouldn’t have any problem at all if the Cubs decided to eventually build a statue of Santo somewhere outside his favorite ballpark.
They could even dedicate it before a game against the Mets.
And then celebrate it with a victory.
I think Ronnie would like that.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.