Issue an apology
Chicago Cubs third basemen Ron Santo became eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 1980, but failed to achieve the necessary votes. Throughout the three decades that followed, Santo endured election after election, never earning the invitation to baseball’s hallowed halls in Cooperstown, New York. His career numbers were impressive, while not spectacular—.277 batting average, 342 homeruns, 1,331 RBIs—though for the era in which he played, he was golden. Over the years, Santo emphasized publicly how important it was to him to make it into the Hall of Fame and, in the years as the Cubs’ radio color man, he gained an increasing affection from fans as they, very passionately, lobbied for his induction. (Jeff Santo, Ron’s son, released a documentary about his dad in 2004 called “This Old Cub” that reinforced Santo’s desire to reach Cooperstown, and in 2007 the Illinois House of Representatives even adopted a bill to urge the Hall of Fame to elect him.) Earlier this month, Santo was finally granted his wish, as the Golden Era Committee of the HoF voted him into baseball royalty. Santo can’t enjoy it himself, of course—he died last year due to complications from bladder cancer and his very public lifelong struggle with diabetes. While Santo’s family is surely delighted with his induction, one can’t help but feel the man was cheated by a flawed, self-important organization. His baseball achievements more than merit his inclusion—Santo has been repeatedly listed among the top ten at his position of all-time—and being retired, let alone being dead, in no way makes one a better ballplayer or a more appropriate candidate for election. Bottom line: Baseball should’ve honored the man and his family while he was still alive. With a sport that’s been clouded with shame since the steroid-era began, you’d hope it could at least honor its legends with class. Instead, baseball fans are insulted once again.
Best of Chicago 2011