You shake off the cold morning, tuck the winter doldrums into that dark crevasse before hopeful thoughts of spring and wishful sounds of summer, sit down at your desk to start work, and immediately find your e-mail inbox bloated with messages regarding … what? Ron Santo is dead?
If you’re a baseball fan this is sad news. If you’re a true Cubs fan, this is devastating news. Your summer just lost a piece of its relevance. Sure the kids laughing and frolicking in the backyard will suffice, but without Santo bleeding Cub blue through the radio speakers alongside the best play-by-play man in baseball Pat Hughes, something is for sure lost.
Cubs legend Ron Santo was your buddy. You suffered and you celebrated together. He was the guy who would tell a story — usually a self-deprecating ditty — that would leave you laughing in your car out loud all alone. You would echo his disgust and you would match his jubilation.
Santo had no legs, a bad heart, a wrecked bladder, and yet he refused to complain or accept pity. When the Cubs weren’t entertaining, the radio stayed on because Santo and Hughes were entertaining.
If you switched on the radio mid-game and Santo was silent, it meant only one thing: The Cubs were getting shellacked. If he was chatting away, they were only down a couple of runs.
Santo was your emotions, while Hughes was your eyes and ears of the game.
So long Santo, buddy. So long.