For 33 years, Ron Santo has been eligible to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and for 33 years the third-baseman should have been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On Monday, December 5, the Golden Era Committee finally voted Santo into the Hall. Santo received 93.8% of the votes. The Chicago Cub great battled diabetes his whole life and last year, the illness took his life. Santo’s achievement comes a year too late.

Judging solely by statistics, Santo should have been elected into the Hall many years earlier. He was a nine-time all-star and had four 30-homerun seasons. He also led the National League in triples in 1964. In his career, Santo had a .277 batting average, 342 homeruns (87th all time), and drove in 1,331 runs (also 87th all time). One interesting stat is WAR (wins above replacement). Baseball-Reference defines WAR as, “WAR, intuitively, attempts to express the total number of wins that a given player adds to his team over the course of a season by comparing the player’s performance with that of a fictitious ‘replacement player.’” Over his career, Ron Santo’s WAR was 66.4, 105th all-time and 74th all time for only position players (no pitchers). This means that the Cubs won 66.4 more games during the 15 years Santo played with him playing, than they would have won if someone else were playing third base.

Ron Santo didn’t only contribute on offense. He was one of the best defensive players ever. Santo won five Gold Glove awards (best fielder) in his fourteen seasons. He only committed 317 errors in his whole career (30th highest all time among 3rd baseman). Santo also had 1,955 career put outs (13th all time among 3rd baseman) and 4,581 defensive assists (5th all time among 3rd baseman). If an opposing player hit the ball near Ron Santo, it was almost always a definite out.

By comparing stats of Santo’s to other Hall of Famers, it is clear that Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame. Only Santo, Hank Aaron, Billy Williams, and Frank Robinson have 2000 hits, 300 home runs, and 1,300 RBIs in 14 seasons. His on base percentage of .362 is better than other third baseman Hall of Famers, Brooks Robinson, Jimmy Collins, Freddie Lindstrom, and Pie Traynor. Santo should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Even after he retired, Santo remained a Cub.

When Ron Santo retired in 1974, his life in baseball wasn’t over. In 1990, Santo took a job as the Cubs radio broadcaster. With so much enthusiasm, Santo made Cub fans want to listen to the radio as to watch it on TV.

Santo is not only an amazing player, defenseman, and broadcaster; but he is also an incredible man. Throughout his whole life, Santo battled Type-1 diabetes. Once he retired in 1974, Santo began to contribute to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. In his life, Santo raised about $60 million for the charity. In 2002, he was named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund’s person of the year. Santo helped improve the life of others with his same illness.

Ron Santo was one of the greatest Cubs, third basemen, broadcasters, and men to ever walk this earth. It is a tragedy that he couldn’t live to see the day he was inducted into Cooperstown and receive his overdue recognition.

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