He grew up in Seattle, but Ron Santo's love for the Chicago Cubs stretched from his days as a standout third baseman who one season even jumped and clicked his heels to celebrate victories to the two decades he spent unabashedly pulling for his team as a broadcaster.
His passion for the Cubbies soothed their long-suffering fans, but his play and work in the broadcast booth helped him, too, through tough times and serious ailments, including a bout with diabetes that cost him both legs below the knees. He called the Cubs, simply, his therapy.
Santo, who had finished his 21st season broadcasting the Cubs in September, died Thursday in Arizona from complications of bladder cancer, according to the team and WGN Radio, his longtime employer. He was 70.
“Ron was an inspiration to everyone as his life was defined by overcoming obstacles. It is a sad day for all of Chicago and everyone in the sports world,” said Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough, who spent 24 years in the Cubs organization including as president.
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A nine-time all-star in his 15-year career, Santo hit .277 with 2,254 hits, 342 home runs and 1,331 runs batted-in. He also won the Gold Glove award five times.
Santo was widely regarded as one of the best players never to gain induction into the Hall of Fame.
Santo grew up in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, not far from the old Sick’s Stadium. He signed with the Cubs after graduating from Franklin High School in 1958.
Colorado agreed to a $21.5 million, two-year contract with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, with a player option for 2013. ... Cincinnati and Bronson Arroyo agreed to a new contract that added two years through 2013 and $23.5 million in new money. ... Atlanta acquired right-hander Scott Linebrink from the White Sox in exchange for minor league right-hander Kyle Cofield. ... The Oakland Athletics agreed to a $1.4 million, one-year contract with outfielder Ryan Sweeney.