Chicago Cubs Icon Ron Santo Passes Away from Bladder Cancer

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In the middle of the night, Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo passed away, at the age of 70 following a battle with bladder cancer.

“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.

For our two part 2008 exclusive with Santo go here and here

“Since he retired he was a powerful spokesperson for Juvenile Diabetes Research.  For the last 21 years, his love for baseball and passion for the Cubs was felt in every one of his broadcasts…In the days and seasons ahead, we will honor Ron and celebrate all he has meant to our team and our fans.  Ron’s number 10 will always be close to our hearts and Ron will forever be a member of the Cubs family.”

A nine-time National League All-Star and five-time Gold Glove Award winner, Santo hit .277 with 365 doubles, 67 triples, 342 home runs, 1,331 RBI and 1,138 runs in 2,243 games covering 15 major league seasons with the Cubs (1960-73) and White Sox (1974).

Born February 25, 1940 in Seattle , Wash. , Santo ranked among the elite during his 15-season big league career. Between 1960-74, only four players had 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,300 RBI: Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Billy Williams and Santo.  Also, only four players had 2,000 hits and 1,000 walks in that span:  Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson and Santo.  Santo’s 342 home runs were the most by any third baseman in his 15-season career, easily outpacing his next closest competitor in Brooks Robinson (248 home runs in that span).

In his 15-year career, Santo finished in the league top-10 in batting average three times, slugging percentage five times, on-base percentage seven times, base on balls nine times, games played eight times, home runs seven times, RBI eight times, runs scored three times and total bases five times.

He holds or shares many defensive records for third basemen, including most consecutive National League games at third base (364), most years leading the N.L. in putouts (seven), most years leading the N.L. in assists (seven straight), most years leading either league in total chances (nine) and most years leading either league in double plays (six).

Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins today released the following statements remembering their friend and teammate Ron Santo.

“It certainly is a sad day for everyone who knows and loves Ron Santo,” said 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com

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