Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ron Santo and the Incredible Hall of Fame Snub

Ron Santo and the Incredible Hall of Fame Snub
This saga has become tiresome for any number of reasons. Santo himself said he’s tired of dealing with this every two years (when the Veterans Committee meets to select players not selected by the voting baseball writers). I can’t stand the sentimental crap that goes hand-in-hand with anything having to do with Ron Santo: diabetes took his legs; clicking his heels in midair at Wrigley Field; the Cubs retired #10 (after Leon Durham wore it—HA!); and he’s almost as popular with fans as Harry Caray was, despite the fact his color commentary skills seem to be limited to yelling “Yes!” and “Oh, no!”
The Baseball Hall of Fame has lost its validity. A huge percentage of baseball fans, who are terribly wrong, believe Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. A huge percentage of Cubs fans believe Ron Santo should be in the Hall of Fame. There are plenty of players on the outside looking in and constant controversy about their statistics and qualifications for enshrinement. Many of the players who are in the Hall, including Mike Schmidt and Joe Morgan, take offense at the thought of anyone else being allowed in. It’s become a classic restricted club, even though many members are African-American, and at least two are Jewish (Greenberg and Lefty). Enshrinement is entirely arbitrary. For some players, it’s first ballot. For the rest, it’s a waiting game. Why bother? Being excluded from the Hall doesn’t change Santo’s statistics, what he meant to the Cubs when he was playing, or what he means to those of us who have no memory of him at third base.
I may have read my favorite Santo story in the long-suffering Cubs fans’ classic Stuck on the Cubs, a chronicle of the Cubs of the 1970’s. In the story, Santo stepped to the plate with the bases loaded as he was suffering the effects of low blood sugar. He watched the pitch come at him and saw three baseballs. He picked the middle one and swung, hitting a grand slam. Might be apocryphal but a pretty good story.

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