It didn't take long for the tears to give way to laughter, and that figured. There were always smiles when Ron Santo was around, and there were plenty at his funeral.
The former Cubs player and broadcaster was remembered fondly in Chicago on Friday, with friends and colleagues praising his unbridled optimism in the face of health problems and the heartbreaking failures of his beloved Cubbies.
Santo embodied three virtues in particular – joy, hope and courage – Monsignor Daniel Mayall told several hundred people at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. Mayall suggested most would remember Santo’s joy, from clicking his heels after those 1969 wins at Wrigley Field to his unabashed rooting during WGN Radio broadcasts.
“Yes! All right! Oh, no! Ah, jeez! Unbelievable!” Mayall said to laughs, recalling the Santo outbursts that came crackling over the radio during Cubs broadcasts.
“Joy was a virtue for Ron ... joy was part of his life, every day and every season. ... Ron Santo was a joyful man,” Mayall said.
Santo died of complications from bladder cancer at the age of 70 on Dec. 3.
Among the mourners were Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Ferguson Jenkins, Randy Hundley, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Jesse Jackson Sr.
Santo, a Seattle baseball icon, signed with the Cubs in 1959 after graduating from Franklin High School.
The Angels and middle reliever Scott Downs agreed to a $15 million, three-year deal. Downs went 5-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 61 innings with the Blue Jays in 2010. ... The Red Sox finalized a one-year deal with catcher Jason Varitek. ... The Astros signed Aussie left-hander and former Mariner Ryan Rowland-Smith to a one-year, $725,000 deal. ... Ex-Seattle lefty George Sherrill agreed to a $1.2 million, one-year contract with the Braves. ... The Royals approved a one-year deal with outfielder Melky Cabrera . ... The Orioles agreed to a one-year contract with infielder Cesar Izturis. ... Catcher Wil Nieves got a one-year deal with the Brewers, and left-hander Scott Olsen signed a $550,000 offer with the Pirates.