Santo Denied Hall Admittance
Written by Fred Mitchell   
Tuesday, 09 December 2008

Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo was denied admission to the Hall of Fame once again as he failed to receive at least 75 percent of the vote from the Veterans’ Committee.

Among the Hall of Fame candidates on the post-1942 ballot, Santo led all candidates with 39 votes, totaling 60.9 percent of all ballots cast.

Santo had 11 seasons of 20-or-more homers, including four straight of 30 or more. He had eight 90-plus RBI seasons, including four seasons with more than 100.

Santo’s three Hall of Fame former teammates: Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams all expressed their disappointment over the fact that Santo was once again denied admission to the Hall of Fame.

“I had already bought my ticket to Las Vegas,” said Banks,  a member of the 500 Home Run Club who had planned to celebrate with Santo at baseball’s winter meetings.

“I’m pretty disappointed,” said Jenkins. “His stats overall…he is third overall behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews as far as third basemen in that era. It’s really too bad. I don’t know why he can’t get the votes.

“Ronnie was the captain when I got there in ’66. And for eight years he played third base, even when he was hurt a lot of times. He got hit in the face one year. He still played and gave his all every day. He put some big numbers up.

“Defense is always something pitchers rely on,” said Jenkins. “Ronnie was always there. We had Santo at third, Don Kessinger at short, Glen Beckert at second and Ernie at first most of my career. I always looked forward to feeling comfortable when those individuals where in the infield.”

Williams and Santo played together in the minors and wound up playing more games together as teammates than any other players in big league history.

“This is disappointing to me and I know it is disappointing to Ronnie,” said Williams. “This year I was kind of looking forward to celebrating with him. When you look at his numbers, they are better than a lot of guys that are in there. But I have often said that because we weren’t in the postseason and not on national television at the end of the year, it did not help. A lot people didn’t know that this guy was a great baseball player.”

Santo hit .277 with 365 doubles, 67 triples, 342 home runs, 1,331 RBIs and 1,138 runs in 2,243 games. He was a nine-time All-Star who earned five consecutive Gold Glove awards (1964-68). His well-chronicled health battles with diabetes have cost him parts of both legs.

A candidate needed at least 48 votes to reach the requisite 75 percent from the 64 living Hall of Fame voters. Following Santo’s 39 votes came Jim Kaat (38), Tony Oliva (33), Gil Hodges (28), Joe Torre (19), Maury Wills (15), Luis Tiant (13), Vada Pinson (12), Al Oliver (9) and Dick Allen (7).

“When our Board of Directors restructured the Veterans Committee after the 2007 election, it did so with the goal of ensuring the voters – the living Hall of Famers – would review their peers,” said Jane Forbes Clark of the Hall of Fame office. “The 10 post-1942 ballot finalists all spent a substantial part of their playing career in the 1960s or the 1970s, and a vast majority of the voters were either actively playing, managing or involved in baseball in those two decades.”