The voluble former ballplayer, who forever endeared himself to fans with his habit of jumping up and clicking his heels after victories, was 70. He was in an Arizona hospital where he was being treated for bladder cancer, according to WGN radio, where Santo worked as a broadcaster.
Santo, who hit 342 home runs, was a nine-time all-star and won five Gold Gloves in a 15-year career, battled juvenile diabetes from the time he was 18, and later in life had both legs amputated.
He was diagnosed with the disease just before his Wrigley debut, but kept it a secret from the team until he proved himself as an all star in 1963. He did not allow the public to know of his diabetes until his final years with the Cubs.
After his playing days ended, Santo raised millions of dollars for diabetes research, and for more than two decades he sponsored an annual walk-a-thon to help seek a cure. The disease took a heavy toll on him. He had heart attacks, went through quadruple-bypass surgery, then underwent amputation of his legs, in 2001 and 2002, but continued as a Cubs color commentator with WGN, using prostheses. He also underwent surgery for the bladder cancer.
Santo's teams never made the World Series. He finished his career with a batting average of .277, 2,254 hits and 1,331 runs batted in.
Santo began working as a Cubs color commentator on WGN in the early 1990s, pairing with broadcasting legend Harry Caray. The Cubs retired his No. 10 at Wrigley Field in September 2003, and he stood and waved from the radio booth to the cheer of the crowd.
“There’s nothing more important to me in my life than this happening to me," Santo told The Associated Press at the time. "I’m a Cubbie. I’ll always be a Cubbie.”
Selected Reading: The New York Times,