A Salute to Ron Santo – Baseball Great & Champion for Juvenile Diabetes
There’s a tear in the eye of every Cub fan today. The great Ron Santo passed away this morning from bladder cancer. The famous Chicago Cub third baseman and broadcaster lived an incredible life that touched millions. His perseverance through a life lived with type 1 diabetes and the complications of that disease is incredibly commendable and an example of the attitude I hope we all may have if faced with the same “speed bumps” as he would call them.
Ron Santo played third base for the Cubs from 1963 to 1973 and his final season was in 1974 on the Chicago White Sox.Â For his entire major league career, he played with type 1 diabetes, some years without others even knowing about it.Â For the past 20 years he was the color commentator on WGN Radio for the Cubs games, most of those years spent beside partner Pat Hughes.Â It’s been a pretty common practice for Cubs fans to watch the games on TV, turn down the sound, and instead listen to Pat & Ron call the game.
It wasn’t until 1971 when he revealed to the public his health condition.Â When he was diagnosed, he wasn’t expected to live past his 40’s.Â And yet, he lived to 70 years old, having a rich and full life.Â Diabetes was just an aspect of Ron’s life, but he never let it stop him from doing what he really loved.Â Even when he lost both legs to the disease, he didn’t for a minute let it keep him from living his life.
Ron has been a huge advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, supporting the search for a cure for this disease that he lived with for years.Â I can remember watching the movie “This Old Cub” and him talking about a time when he knew his blood sugar was low.Â His vision was starting to go blurry and yet, he hit a home run, ran around the bases, and went directly to get some sugar back in him. It’s this drive and passion for life and love and…well…baseball that kept Ron going.Â He’s truly an inspiration to everyone living with any illness or disease.
My favorite Ron Santo memory is from September 27, 2003.Â I was incredibly fortunate to have won tickets to the baseball game that day and, as luck would have it, it ended up being a double header.Â My husband and I sat through the games listening to Pat & Ron as we watched.Â This was the day that the Cubs clinched the division.Â Over the roar of the crowd during the last out of the game, I could hear Ron screaming in excitement.Â It’s that kind of joy he brought to so many over the years.Â I think there was just as much hope for at least a World Series appearance that season as there was when Ron played in 1969 with Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and others (unfortunately, that hope didn’t pan out in either year, but we still have hope).
So to you, Ron Santo, we send our thanks and appreciation for being an incredible baseball player, broadcaster, human being, and advocate for other type 1 diabetics.Â You’ve brought hope to so many with diabetes as well as those who love the Cubs (yes…us Cub fans could use all the hope we can get).Â We click our heels to you!