Summer Silence – A Tribute to Ron Santo

The sound of summer will never be the same again.

For the past thirty years, my television or radio, has broadcast the fate of my beloved Cubs.  This year, I just don’t have the heart to listen.  It could be because they are having a lackluster year.  But I don’t think so.  I’ve been following them through bad years my whole life.

At first, I listened to Jack Brickhouse with his “Hey-Hey!”  Then it was “Holy Cow!” with Harry and Steve Stone.  But the departures of Jack and Harry didn’t leave the hole in my heart that Ron Santo did.

Ron was a Cub through and through.  Not only did he play for the famous 1969 Cubs, but he experienced the famous “black cat”.  That particular year was one of the most monumental Cub disappointments ever.  And that’s what made Ron special.  His determination, love and loyalty amidst disappointment.

There were times when his personal life could have felt disappointing.  As a young player, Ron was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, before anyone even knew what juvenile diabetes was.  He kept his condition a secret, afraid MLB wouldn’t let him play.  Later, the disease would claim both of his legs.  He’d have heart surgery and have to learn how to walk with prosthetic legs.  He did.  He never gave up.  Not on life, not on the Cubs, and he gave you the feeling that if you knew him personally, he’d never give up on you either.  I never heard him complain about his body once, except maybe about his lack of hair.  He was famous for his toupees, in fact once during a game, one of his hairpieces caught on fire.

He endured the monumental disappointment of never having reached the Hall of Fame,  even allowing his son, an independent filmmaker, to document the weeks, days, hours and yes, even the moment he received the crushing phone call.

He endured one disappointing season after another, along with all of the die-hard Cubs fans.  With every bad play, it was “Oh Geez!”, or even worse, “Oh no!”  I could tell within thirty seconds whether the game was going well or not, just by the sound of Ron’s voice.   He was the genuine article Cub’s fan.

So maybe you can understand, why I shed a tear, even now, because my summer will never sound the same.  No more weeding gardens next to the radio.  No more running errands with Pat and Ron.  No more exclamations of occasional delight or, more commonly, distress.  The birds are still singing.  The lawn mower still humming. But the sound I long for is forever gone…

PS.  A few days after I wrote this, I do have to admit to watching the Cubs vs. Sox games…I guess just like Ron, I’m incurable…

The idea for this post came one day when Frank, the brilliant author of A Frank Angle, and I began talking baseball (via comments on our blogs of course).  After reading his amazing post On All Time Harrys, the topic of Ron Santo came up.  We decided to collaborate on a pair of posts.  I would do a post about my thoughts on Ron Santo, he would do a post On All Time Rons.  It was a lot of fun! 

Frank’s blog is chock full of everything from science to religion; from politics to baseball.  He has such a wide range of interests and is so intelligent, there’s truly something for everyone.   He is on my All Time Franks list!  😀

For more information on the life and career of Ron Santo purchase the newly released book:  Ron Santo:  A Perfect Ten by Pat Hughes and Rich Wolfe