Cubs to retire Santo's No. 10
Banks, Williams only other numbers retired by team
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Ron Santo: "I don't care if I get in the Hall of Fame anymore. This is my Hall of Fame." (AP)
CHICAGO -- Ron Santo wasn't elected into baseball's Hall of Fame but he will be remembered forever with the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs announced Monday they will retire Santo's No. 10 in ceremonies on Sept. 28 in the regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"I don't care if I get in the Hall of Fame anymore," Santo said Monday. "This is my Hall of Fame, and I really mean it. I can't explain it but this is the ultimate."
Santo, 63, is the third player to be so honored by the Cubs, joining Ernie Banks, who wore No. 14, and Billy Williams, who wore No. 26. Both numbers fly on flags from the foul poles. Santo's No. 10 will be added to the left field foul pole.
"I've always in my heart hoped that before I died that they retired my number," Santo said. "There's nothing more important to me in my life than this happening. I'm a Cubbie. I'll always be a Cubbie. I was asked, 'Have they ever broke your heart?' All the years I've played, all the years I've broadcast, they've never broke my heart."
Maybe not but the emotional Santo doesn't hide his feelings for the team during his broadcasts as the color commentator for WGN radio. He played for the team from 1960-1973 and was with the White Sox in 1974. This is his 14th season with WGN Radio.
"It seems like I'm more popular now than I was when I was a player," Santo said. "Maybe all you have to do is lose a couple legs and be a Cub fan. That's what it's all about in Chicago."
He's not joking. Santo has had both legs amputated because of complications with diabetes. His prosthesis are designed to look like Cubs uniforms -- home on one leg, road on the other -- and they have his No. 10.
"When I get to the ballpark, it's therapy and I don't think about anything else," he said.
Diagnosed with diabetes in his teens, Santo is a member of the board of directors of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Since he began his involvement with the JDF through his annual Ron Santo Walk for the Cure walk-a-thon, more than $54 million has been raised for the charity.
"I think my second career has been a fan's career and that's how it's been," Santo said. "When I first started [broadcasting], I was the worst but I was trying to be somebody that I wasn't. Then WGN said, 'Be yourself.' I became a fan. I fell in love with the team. I moan and I groan, I do a lot of stuff. I've got the best play-by-play guy in the game. I look so forward to coming to the ballpark and being with Pat [Hughes, play-by-play man] every day."
Hughes and Cubs marketing director John McDonough tease Santo constantly but he knew it was no joke when McDonough broke the news about his No. 10 gaining a permanent place in Cubs history.
"Very few players are as closely connected with a franchise as Ron Santo is with the Chicago Cubs," said Andy MacPhail, team president and CEO. "His extraordinary playing career, his rabid following as a broadcaster and his many charitable endeavors for the Chicagoland area -- where he has made his home for nearly 30 years -- makes his contributions to this franchise special and unique.
"The Cubs organization has been privileged to have been associated with someone of the spirit and tenacity that Ron brings to both the ballpark and to life," MacPhail said.
"I lost my breath," Santo said about being told the news. "I'm so overwhelmed. I can't tell you how much this means to me."
The former third baseman won five Rawlings Gold Glove awards during his 15-year Major League career. He was a nine-time National League All-Star selection, batting .277 during his career with 342 home runs and 1,331 RBIs.
And trivia buffs should note the last time No. 10 was worn was by interim manager Bruce Kimm last year. The last player? Outfielder Terrell Lowery from 1997-98.
"This is what it's all about -- to enjoy it," Santo said of the honor. "This coming at this time was so perfect. I never expected it -- although I can't say I never thought about it."
Congrats to Ronnie...and thanks for a great career....