Ron SantoDecember 3, 2010
According to Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune, Ron Santo passed away last night. He was among the best third basemen to ever play the game, and Bill James rated him as the 87th best player overall in baseball history, ahead of Frankie Frisch, Sam Crawford, Al Kaline, and Brooks Robinson. All four of those players are in the Hall of Fame, as are many others who didn’t have the career that Santo had. If there’s some note of mercy in the news of his death, it’s that he passed away in time to miss the December 6 announcement on the latest vote by the Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee. Though Santo was not on the ballot under consideration by the committee (it is being restricted this year to “Expansion Era” players, i.e., players whose careers got rolling right around when Santo’s career was winding down), you have to think that any Hall of Fame vote would cause him some pain at this point. As anyone knows who ever heard him on the radio, he was a fan at heart, someone who was not afraid to get his hopes up. After the most recent dashing of those hopes, in 2008, when the Veteran’s Committee again failed to vote him in, he said, “I don’t want to go through this every two years.” He was human, capable of being hurt, but he did not seem to be a bitter guy at all but someone who knew what really mattered. For all the homers he smashed and all the line drives he snared and all the smiles he brought to all the faces of fellow fans all down the years, may his name and number fly high forever above the place he loved most in the world.