Members of the 500 Home Run Club, as well as all of us in the baseball community, extend sincere condolences to the friends and family of former Chicago Cubs slugger Ron Santo.
Santo passed away last Thursday at the age of 70.
“It certainly is a sad day for everyone who knows and loves Ron Santo,” said 500 Home Run Club member Ernie Banks. “Ronnie has been a friend of mine for more than 50 years and is like a brother to me. Ronnie’s entire life was dedicated to his wonderful family, the Chicago Cubs and their outstanding fans.
“On the field, Ronnie was one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever seen. Off the field, he was as generous as anyone you would want to know. His work for diabetes research seemed unparalleled. Ronnie was always there for you, and through his struggles, he was always upbeat, positive and caring. I learned a lot about what it means to be a caring, decent human being from Ron Santo.”
Hall of Famer Billy Williams was a teammate of Santo’s in the minor leagues, as well as throughout the 1960’s and early ‘70s with the Cubs.
“Ronnie’s passing is a tremendous loss, not only for the Cubs but for all of baseball,” said Williams. “He is a man who devoted his entire life to the game, to the Cubs and to the great Cubs fans. He’s going to be missed by a lot of people.
"What I learned from Ronnie is he loved the game, he loved the people in the game and he loved the fans of the game – he enjoyed every moment until the last day of his life. When it came to his beloved Cubs, you never had to look at the scoreboard to know the score of the game – you could simply listen to the tone of his voice. Ronnie was a great friend and will be greatly missed.”
Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins was also a teammate and longtime friend of Santo.
“This is a very sad day for Cubs fans and baseball fans everywhere,” said Jenkins. “Ronnie, number 10, was and always will be a Chicago legend. He was a tough player, he wanted to play and contribute every day, and he never let any obstacles stand in his way.
“Ronnie was one of the leaders on our team. Leo Durocher made him the captain, and he took that role very seriously. As an announcer, Ronnie wore his heart on his sleeve. Off the field, his contributions to diabetes research were unmatched. Ronnie will always be remembered as one of the best third basemen the Cubs have ever had, and his number 10 flag flies above Wrigley Field as a tribute to Ronnie.”
Santo endured the ravages of diabetes- including the loss of parts of both legs, heart ailments and bladder cancer.
Santo came up to the big leagues in 1960 with the Cubs and went on to hit 342 homers and become a 9-time All-Star and 5-time Gold Glove winner at third base, all while hiding the fact that he was dealing with diabetes.
Santo was a member of the Chicago Cubs radio team as an analyst since 1990 and was a pioneer in raising funds for juvenile diabetes research. For 32 years he hosted the Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes, which raised more than $40 million to support diabetes research, progress and continued hope for a cure.
“My siblings and I first knew Ron Santo as fans, listening to him in the broadcast booth,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. “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. Our thoughts and prayers today are with his wife Vicki and their family and we share with fans across the globe in mourning the loss of our team’s number one fan and one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game.
“As a nine-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner, Ronnie was one of the best Cubs ever and a Hall of Famer in our book.”