Cubs Honor Ron Santo With Statue

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rosie Powers

    In honor of the late, iconic third baseman, the Chicago Cubs unveiled a new tribute statue as part of "Ron Santo Day" before Wednesday's match-up against the Washington Nationals.

    Santo's new statue can be found on the corner of Addison Street and Sheffield Avenue, and it is only the fourth statue of its kind to find a home at the Friendly Confines. Santo's statue joins the likenesses of broadcaster Harry Carey, and Cubs players Billy Williams and Ernie Banks.

    Members of the Ricketts and Santo family, many members of the 2011 Chicago Cubs team and several of Santo's former teammates, including Ernie Banks, Glen Beckert, Randy Hundley, Fergie Jenkins, Milt Pappas and Billy Williams, were on hand for the unveiling of the statue.

    "He connected with all of us because he was our fan,'' Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. "He was the beating heart of Chicago Cubs fans everywhere and we'll miss him dearly.''

    "He was a remarkable person,''  teammate Ernie Banks said. "Ron Santo did not have an enemy. He loved everybody.''

    "Ron Santo Day" also included a pre-game ritual with the Santo family, a ceremonial first pitch from Santo's grandson, Sam Santo, and a Seventh Inning Stretch song led by the Santo family.

    Two people were hospitalized -- apparently from heat exhaustion -- following the pre-game ceremony.

    In Santo's 15 seasons in the big leagues, he was one of only four players to amass 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,300 RBIs between the period of 1960 and 1974, joining baseball greats like Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Billy Williams. Santo also posted the most home runs by any third baseman during his career as well.

    Santo joined the Chicago Cubs radio team as an analyst in 1990, and he was a pioneer in raising funds for juvenile diabetes research. For 32 years, he hosted the Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes, which raised more than $60 million to support diabetes research and progress.

    Santo passed away on Dec. 3 at the age of 70.

     Photo: Rosie Powers