Tuesday would’ve been Ron Santo’s 74th birthday. His latest replacement on WGN Radio, Ron Coomer, was at the Cubs’ Spring Training complex to prep for his first season in the broadcast booth.
Coomer, 47, is replacing analyst and former Cubs player Keith Moreland, and will join play-by-play man Pat Hughes. And Coomer has nothing but respect for Santo, who was doing the Cubs broadcasts when Coomer played for the Cubs in 2001.
“You don’t replace Ronnie,” Coomer said of Santo. “I’m not looking to be the next ‘Pat and Ron’ show. Hopefully, I can just do my job.”
Coomer received a No. 10 honoring Santo after a fantasy camp, and it’s hanging up in his pool room at home. He attended Lockport (Ill.) Township High School, and still has links on the south side of Chicago. Coomer expects his favorite sandwich place, Parisi’s, to deliver to Wrigley Field. He also has some Santo stories to share with listeners. They talked about playing third several times.
“We were headed to Cincinnati, and he came walking to the back to the plane and says, ‘Hey, big boy, what are you doing tonight?'” said Coomer, who knew he’d be talking baseball with Santo that evening.
“He was a legend,” Coomer said of Santo.
— Carrie Muskat
Do you want to sing on stage with the band, Chicago, and also help Ron Santo’s foundation aid other diabetics? You can win a chance to sing on stage with the band, Chicago, on Aug. 25 at Ravinia. An auction will run from Aug. 7-17, and the winner will receive two concert tickets, two backstage passes and the opportunity to join the band on stage. All proceeds will benefit the Ron and Vicky Santo Diabetic Alert Foundation. Go to ronsantofoundation.com for more infomation.
According to the website, the foundation’s mission is to educate people about the availability and efficacy of diabetic alert dogs and to raise funds in order to assist approved clients with the purchase of a diabetic alert dog. The foundation was motivated by Ron Santo’s battle with diabetes and their dog, Joker. Vicky Santo tells the story of Joker, who would apparently recognize when Ron was having low sugars.
Santo, who had both legs amputated because of complications with diabetes, died Dec. 2, 2010, at the age of 70. The former Cubs third baseman and radio broadcaster was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
— Carrie Muskat
Aramis Ramirez hit a milestone home run on Thursday that meant much more considering the other name in the discussion. With his 337th career home run as a third baseman, Ramirez tied Hall of Famer Ron Santo for sixth place on the all-time list for homers from that position. The two became close after Ramirez was traded in 2003 to Chicago, where Santo was the Cubs’ radio analyst.
“I was a big fan of Ron Santo all my years in Chicago,” Ramirez told reporters in Pittsburgh. “He was a great guy, always in the clubhouse trying to give me advice, make me a better player. I admire the way he treated young players in Chicago.”
Santo was posthumously inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, an honor Ramirez called, “deserving.”
Ramirez actually has 340 career home runs — he also homered twice as a pinch-hitter and once as a designated hitter in Interleague Play. Santo hit 342 homers in his career.
— Carrie Muskat
Ron Santo and Cubs radio play by play announcer Pat Hughes are among the 41 broadcasters picked from the more than 200 eligible for the 2013 Ford C. Frick Award. The second round of online voting for the award began Monday and will run through Oct. 5 on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Facebook site. The top three vote-getters among the 41 finalists will be placed on the final 2013 Frick Award ballot, with the other seven finalists determined by a Hall of Fame committee. The final ballot will be announced Oct. 9.
The Ford C. Frick Award is presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for excellence in baseball broadcasting. The 2013 Frick Award winner will be selected by a 21-member electorate, with the winner to be announced at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., in early December.
Santo was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame this summer.
The top 41 vote-getters from the first round of online voting were (in alphabetical order): Joe Angel, Richie Ashburn, Alan Ashby, Bert Blyleven, Lou Boudreau, Thom Brennaman, Rodger Brulotte, Joe Buck, Steve Busby, Skip Caray, Joe Castiglione, Tom Cheek, Don Chevrier, Gary Cohen, Jerry Doggett, Jacques Doucet, Dick Enberg, Ed Farmer, Ray Fosse, Hank Greenwald, Tom Grieve, Tom Hamilton, Ken Harrelson, Mark Holtz, Pat Hughes, Jim Hunter, Todd Kalas, Bill King, Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper, Eric Nadel, Joe Nuxhall, Phil Rizzuto, Ron Santo, Mike Shannon, Charlie Slowes, Dwayne Staats, Steve Stone, Pete Van Wieren, Mike Wilner and Bert Wilson. Every broadcaster, active or retired, who has broadcast at least 10 consecutive years for a team or network was eligible for consideration during the first round of voting. Voting in the Fan Finals begins with a clean slate for each candidate, as vote totals do not carry over from Round One.
Presented annually since 1978 for excellence in baseball broadcasting, the Ford C. Frick Award is given to an active or retired broadcaster with a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a ball club, network, or a combination of the two. The Frick electorate includes all living Award-winners and five historians/veteran media members appointed by the Hall of Fame.
Long time Cubs third baseman and radio analyst Ron Santo, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame last Sunday, was celebrated on Friday at Wrigley Field. There were No. 10 flags on top of the ballpark and a “10” imprinted in center field in honor of Santo, who passed away in December 2010, one year before the Golden Era committee voted him into the Hall of Fame. Santo’s wife, Vicki, and Santo’s sons, Ron Jr. and Jeff, and daughter Linda and her two children, Sam and Spencer, received a photo from the ceremonies in Cooperstown in which the family posed with the plaque. The family then shook hands with Cubs manager Dale Sveum, the coaches and all the players lined along the dugout. Santo’s grandson Spencer Brown threw a perfect strike to recently retired Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood for the ceremonial first pitch. As they took the field, the Cubs players clicked their heels as they did last Sunday in St. Louis in honor of Santo, who first did the celebration in 1969.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs open a three-game series against the Cardinals on Friday at Wrigley Field, which also is Ron Santo Day. Ceremonies are expected to begin around 1 p.m. CT. As of now, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza are both still on the roster.
* Since making his Cubs debut June 26, Anthony Rizzo is first among NL rookies with a .323 batting average, is tied for first with five home runs, and second in RBIs with 12.
* Alfonso Soriano is one home run away from his 11th 20-homer season. One more, and he’ll join Andre Dawson as the only players to hit 20 or more home runs in each of their first six seasons with the Cubs.
* In case you missed it, here are the pitching matchups for this weekend:
Friday: LHP Travis Wood (4-5, 4.33) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (12-4, 3.10)
Saturday: RHP Jeff Samardzija (7-8, 4.25) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (1-3, 2.78)
Sunday: LHP Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.88) vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (8-10, 4.31)
— Carrie Muskat
Legendary Cubs third baseman and longtime WGN Radio broadcaster Ron Santo will be posthumously enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., today. The ceremony begins at 12:30 p.m. CT. Santo was voted into the Hall last Dec. 5 by the Golden Era Ballot Committee.
On Sunday, the Cubs will wear No. 10 patches on their jerseys to commemorate Santo’s election into the Hall.
* In the 15 Major League seasons of Santo’s playing career with the Cubs (1960-73) and White Sox (1974), he was one of four players to amass 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 1,300 RBIs, joining fellow Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Billy Williams.
* Including Santo, a total of 47 former Cubs players, managers and executives have earned enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
— Carrie Muskat
Ron Santo will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, and fans of the Cubs third baseman can watch the TV premiere of “This Old Cub” special edition on MLB Network on Saturday.
This is an updated version of the documentary about Santo, who passed away Dec. 3, 2010. It will air at 12 p.m. CT Saturday. The intimate and indepth film focuses on Santo’s life, both on the field and off, and how he dealt with complications from diabetes that forced him to have both legs amputated below the knee. It includes humorous and very touching highlights from his days as a player and in the radio booth with broadcaster Pat Hughes. The film was produced and directed by Santo’s son Jeff, and the new version includes the statue dedication at Wrigley Field in August 2011, the Hall of Fame election announcement on Dec. 5, 2011, and excerpts from an interview between father and son recorded two weeks before Ron died. Fans also can purchase their own copy of the documentary at www.santofilms.com.
Santo was voted into Cooperstown on Dec. 5, 2011 by the Golden Era Ballot Committee. A nine-time All-Star, he received 15 of 16 votes.
* On Saturday in Cooperstown, the Cubs will host a fan fest at the Fenimore Art Museum from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. CT. Special guests will include Hughes, Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins, and teammates Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley. There will be a question and answer session, video of Santo moments, and food and drink. The Cubs contingent in Cooperstown also will include members of the Ricketts family, as well as former Cubs manager Lou Piniella.
* Sunday’s induction ceremony will begin at 12:30 p.m. CT at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. Cubs fans who can’t get there can celebrate Santo’s honor at a viewing party at Captain Morgan Club next to Wrigley Field.
* On July 27, which will be the Cubs’ first home game after the ceremony, the team will celebrate Santo at Wrigley Field, with the first 10,000 fans receiving a commemorative Ron Santo Hall of Fame plaque.
— Carrie Muskat