Thursday, December 10, 2009

1969 One Cub At A Time - #570 Ron Santo

Here is the original Topps card

And my update card.

Today Ron Santo is know as the guy who has been close to getting elected to the Hall of Fame, but hasn't made it. He's also color man for the Cubs radio broadcasts, though he isn't very good. What he is, is a die hard Cub. He lives and breathes the Cubs and that comes through loud and clear on the broadcasts. What he lacks in finesse he makes up for in emotion.

And Ron Santo is a diabetic. The disease cost him his legs, but not his enthusiastic outlook on life or the Cubs.

I like Ron Santo.


Ron Santo was the team captain of the 1969 Cubs. Yet, I think the captain let the team down.

As many of the starters did, Santo had a lousy September. He hit 29 HR's for the season, but only 2 in September. His overall average was .289, but only .244 in September. The captain didn't really lead the troops. Actually, I guess he did lead the troops, but not in a good way!

Santo also had a post-game tradition that ended up being an embarrassment. His thing was, after a Cubs win at Wrigley, to run and click his heels as he led the team to the clubhouse door down the leftfield line.

It started as a spontaneous thing. Santo was just, as he does on the radio today, wearing his emotions on his sleeve. It would be ok if it happened once, But it became a thing, his thing. While the Cubs fans loved it, the opposing teams didn't. The Mets, a team of much younger players than the veteran Cubs, thought Santo was immature. It gave them a rallying point.

And then there was the Don Young incident. In mid-July, Young, the Cubs rookie centerfielder, misplaced a couple balls in a game the Cubs lost to the Mets. Afterwards, Santo ripped into Young in front of the team. The incident made the papers and made Santo look really bad. He later apologized, but I think it showed the Cubs were starting to feel the pressure.

Truth be told, I think Santo had troubles dealing with the pressure. That's not something you want to see from your captain.


  1. Did Santo's emotional nature eventually lead to the Cubs moving him? I'm still puzzled by that a little. I know the Cubs were trying to get younger and Bill Madlock was coming up, but it seems odd that they were so willing to get rid of someone who had been a Hall of Fame-type player for so long.

  2. Night Owl,
    The Cubs moved Santo in an effort to rebuild the team. The phrase used in the press was "Backing up the Truck." After the 1973 season, Santo, Beckert, Hundley, Jenkins, Hickman, and Pappas were all gone. Billy Williams was gone after '74. It was just a general purging....and it didn't work. The '74-76 teams were really young and really bad.