Ron Santo died in December 2010, so he was unable to share his family and Cubs fans’ joy on his election to the Hall of Fame a year later.
His widow, Vicki, made the induction speech on behalf of her late husband, and asked fans and friends not to lament that. Joe Lemire:
Yet, in a stirring speech of grace and eloquence on Sunday, Vicki Santo urged those in attendance — vocal contingents of both Reds fans for Barry Larkin and Cubs fans for Santo — to dwell on the positive of her late husband’s career and life.
“This is not a sad day, not at all,” Vicki said. "This is a very happy day. This is an incredible day for an incredible man, a man who lived an extraordinary life to its fullest."
In addition to his now-Hall-of-Fame career, Santo was a beloved broadcaster for Cubs baseball on WGN radio for 21 seasons, entertaining an entire generation of fans who never saw him play. He also was a tireless fundraiser for research into juvenile diabetes, the disease that eventually took his life:
Of course the weekend would have improved with Santo’s presence. Of course it is a shame that a deserving player with a severe illness had to watch as he was repeatedly passed over for election. Of course more fans would have turned up in Cooperstown to hear his affable storytelling review his career. Of course the family had reason to feel bitter.
But, instead, with humility and positivity, the Santo family saw an opportunity to celebrate their father and to promote a worthy cause.
“Our dad would want us to embrace it,” [Santo’s son] Jeff said. “It’s his legacy and if more people, if this could shed a light on what he did for baseball and also for JDRF, that’s a great thing that more people could understand his story and what kind of man and ballplayer he was.”
Vicki Santo turned what could have been a sad day into a triumphant one for her late husband and all who loved him.