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Historic Chicago Cub Stories

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  • Historic Chicago Cub Stories

    I've been writing some biographical stuff for AJ's site. I thought I'd share them with you.
    "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
    Carl Yastrzemski

  • #2
    Without Ernie Banks, the Cubs would have finished the season in Albuquerque

    On a long anticipated day in May 1970, the most beloved Cub in franchise history achieved what no other shortstop had ever when he joined Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Jimmie Fox, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews and Mel Ott in baseball’s elite 500 home run club. His historic blast came in the second inning in front of 5,264 Wrigley Field faithful and ensured his place among those seven others in the hollowed halls of Cooperstown.

    Seventeen years earlier, with the end of the season looming and nothing to lose, Cubs management sent word to manager Phil Cavarretta to start four rookies against the Philadelphia Phillies in a mid September game. Ernie Banks replaced an ailing and struggling Roy Smalley Sr. and made three plate appearances that day. Each time Banks left the batter’s box hitless. His major league debut had been dismal and to make matters worse, he had failed to stop a ground ball in a humiliating 16-4 loss the Chicago press dubbed the “Rookie Daze.”

    Fortunately Banks regrouped and in a total of 10 games in that last month of that 1953 season he collected eleven hits, a double, a triple and two home runs. The Cubs’ brass saw enough to realize they had their new shortstop. That off-season Smalley was sent to the Milwaukee Braves and Banks began a career that would eventually see him voted as the most popular Chicago Cub ever.

    Ernest Banks was born in Dallas Texas in 1931 and didn’t take to baseball immediately. His father, who once played semi-pro baseball, bought him a glove for $2.98 during the depression but had to bribe young Ernie with nickels and dime to use it. Banks was more interested in other sports during his youth, captaining both his high school football and basketball teams. He finally came to baseball by way of his high school softball team where he was assigned the shortstop position.

    In 1948 a scout for the Amarillo Colts’ barnstorming team was on a recruiting mission and thought Ernie would make a good baseball player. A few days later, with his father’s blessing, he suited up for the Colts and began his professional baseball career. The following season Ernie led the Colts in hitting and caught the eye of Cool Papa Bell who was managing the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues at the time. After getting his high school diploma, which his mother insisted on, the Monarchs signed Banks the following spring for $300. In his first season he hit .301 and belted 15 home runs.

    After two seasons in Negro Leagues, Major League Baseball came knocking. St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck was the first to notice Ernie’s skills. Veeck contacted Monarchs owner Tom Baird who immediately agreed to sell Ernie’s contract because he believed Veeck was much fairer to black players than any other major league owner; for $35,000 the Browns could have Ernie. But Veeck could not come up with the money and wanting to keep Banks out of the American league, he made the Cubs aware of Banks’ availability.

    In nineteen major league seasons, Banks collected 2,583 hits, 512 home runs, 407 doubles, and ninety triples and only struck out 1,236 times in over 9400 at bats. He led the National League in home runs in 1958 and 1960 and captured the RBI crown in two of those three years. He played in no less than eleven All Star games and became the first senior circuit player to win two consecutive Most Valuable Player awards. What made this feat even more remarkable is that he did so on a team that never made the post season. As one sportswriter put it: "Without Ernie Banks, the Cubs would have finished the season in Albuquerque!"

    On August 15, 1964, after several refusals from the modest Banks and five more productive years stll ahead, the Cubs held Ernie Banks Day to salute his achievements on and off the field. Mr. Cub, as Banks became affectionately known as throughout the Windy City that day, was not only a great baseball player; he was a wonderful human being whose sunny disposition was legendary and earned him the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 1967. He loved the game so much, he once quipped, “It's a great day for a ball game; let's play two!” and whenever a new player joined the Cubs, Banks was the first player to greet and welcome them to the team and introduce them to the press.

    After fifteen years in a Cub uniform, Banks’ best shot at a playoff appearance finally came in the 1969 campaign. With the likes of Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Don Kessinger, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley and Fergie Jenkins the Cubs had their best shot at a World Seires berth since 1945 but collapsed in August, blowing the nine game lead they had over the New York Mets and ending Banks’ last chance for October glory.

    The following season Banks played in only 72 games and in September 1971, with a troubling arthritic knee and having played in only 39 games, Banks hung up his cleats for the last time after, ironically, collecting his 2,533rd hit off a Phillies pitcher at Wrigley Field almost 19 years to the day later.

    Five years later in his first year of eligibility, Ernie Banks was elected the lone player to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

    On a windy, Sunday afternoon in August 1982, the Cubs retired Banks’ number 14 running it up a flagpole in the left field corner of Wrigley Field where a 17-mile-per-hour wind whipped it over the ivy.
    Last edited by RBi; 03-05-2006, 11:54 AM.
    "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
    Carl Yastrzemski


    • #3
      You Know You're From Philadelphia When....

      You still have not gotten over the Ryne Sandberg trade.

      In January 1982, in what can only be described in hindsight as the complete fleecing of a of an opposing team, the Chicago Cubs sent Ivan Dejesus to the Philadelphia Phillies for Larry Bowa and an unknown, unproven rookie.

      The rookie, thrown in to compensate for the seven-year age difference between Bowa and Dejesus was a 22-year-old shortstop named Ryne Sandberg who would turn the windy city upside down in his search for baseball’s highest honor.

      There was little doubt that Bowa, an aging yet feisty veteran, was still among the best defensive shortstops and although his offense and temperament were questionable, general manager Dallas Green knew he would be in the line-up every day helping the team move towards October. Sandberg, on the other hand, was unproven. He had good speed but critics said had a light bat and was much too tall to make the move to second base.

      After acquiring second baseman Bump Willis from the Texas Rangers during spring training of the same year, both Green and manager Lee Elia were not even sure what position Sandberg would play. They flirted with the idea of moving him to center field but with Steve Henderson already in that position and no trade on the horizon, Sandberg had little chance of cracking the opening day line-up.

      Only two years later in 1984, Sandberg silenced his critics for good and cemented his place in the hearts and minds of fans who had lived through years of disappointment when he captured National League Most Valuable Player honors and carried the Cubs to their first postseason appearance in 39 years. From 1984 to1993 Sandberg played in ten consecutive all-star games, starting in all but one of those games, and from 1983 to 1991 he earned nine consecutive Gold Glove awards.

      Ryne Dee Sandberg was born on September 18, 1959 in Spokane Washington. His parents named him after Ryne Duren who was on the mound at Yankee Stadium when they were trying to pick a name for him. He was an outstanding high school athlete and after being named an All-American starting quarterback by Parade magazine in 1978, he was heavily scouted by college football programs throughout the country.

      Sandberg looked poised to start a football career when, as fate would have it, he changed directions after being drafted by the Phillies in the 20th round of the June amateur draft in 1978. Sandberg rose through the ranks of the Phillies’ minor league clubs for almost three years before getting called up at the end of the 1981 season. Fittingly, his first major league hit came in front of 19,000 future fans at Wrigley Field on September 27, in a 14-0 Cubs blowout. The Phillies, hoping to make room for infield prospects Julio Franco and Juan Samuel, decided to trade away their “can’t miss” prospect to the Cubs who were looking to add some pop to their bats.

      After much deliberation, the Cubs told Sandberg he would be their third baseman for the 1982 season. He quickly settled in at the hot corner posting a .271 average and collecting 172 hits. The following season Sandberg was moved to second base after Willis left to play in Japan and veteran third baseman Ron Cey was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      Some 24 years after that infamous trade that left the Phillies crippled for an entire decade, Sandberg is considered by many to be the greatest defensive second basemen to ever take the field. His streak of 123 errorless games is a National League record and his career fielding percentage is a staggering .989. When he retired, for the second time, in 1997 he had played in over 2000 games and amassed 2,386 hit, 403 doubles, 76 triples and 282 home runs. He had almost become the first player in history to get 200 hits, 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 steals in a single season, missing the mark the mark by only 4 doubles, a triple and a home run in his 1984 MVP season. Sandberg was the first player to post both 40 home runs and 50 stolen base seasons in the course of a career and, like Ernie Banks before him, Sandberg was the consummate gentleman on and off the field.

      In 1994 citing a lack of motivation and declining numbers Ryno, as he had become affectingly known as, announced his retirement. He gave up over $10 million in salary telling the fans of Chicago, "I am not the type of person who can be satisfied with anything less than my very best effort and my very top performance. I am not the type of person who can leave my game at the ballpark and feel comfortable that my future is set regardless of my performance. And I am certainly not the type of person who can ask the Cubs organization and Chicago Cubs fans to pay my salary when I am not happy with my mental approach and my performance."

      Sandberg came out of retirement for the 1996 season and in the process collected his 1000th RBI and passed Joe Morgan on the all-time second basemen home runs list before retiring for good at the end of the 1997 season.

      Sandberg was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame along with Boston Red Sox legend Wade Boggs in 2005 after only three years on the ballot.
      Last edited by RBi; 03-05-2006, 11:54 AM.
      "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
      Carl Yastrzemski


      • #4
        Cap Anson's Journey To Cooperstown

        When the doors to the new National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York first swung open in June 1939, Adrian Constantine “Cap” Anson had been dead for 17 years, but the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee certainly had not forgotten his accomplishments. As his new copper plaque read, Anson was the “Greatest hitter and greatest player-manager of the 19th century."

        Anson had spent twenty-seven seasons playing baseball at its highest level of competition while becoming the first player to amass 3000 hits. Along with his stern iron-will, he became know as the premier player of the 19th century.

        Anson spent his first professional season with the Rockford Forest Cities of the National Association and the following year he joined the Philadelphia Athletics as a third and first baseman. He spent a total of five years in the National Association hitting over .350 four times and when the National League was formed in 1876, he joined the Chicago team, then known as the White Stockings. Anson was primarily used as a catcher and an outfielder, but moved to first base in 1879 and took that position for the rest of his career.

        Anson was an outstanding hitter and an innovative manager. He led the National League with a .399 average in 1881 and a .344 average in 1888. He led the league in RBI's from 1880 through 1882, 1884 through 1886, and in 1888 and 1891. He took Chicago to pennant wins from 1880 through 1882 and in 1885 and 1886.

        In twenty-two seasons as a major league player, Anson batted .329 with 2,995 hits, including 528 doubles, 124 triples, and 97 home runs. He scored 1,719 runs and drove in 1,879. As a manager, he had a 1,296-947 record for a .578 winning percentage.

        Anson is thought to have "invented" the hit and run, which he used frequently throughout his career and he was also one of the first managers to take a team south for spring training; doing so for the first time in 1885. He was a tough disciplinarian who fined players for being overweight, drinking, and missing curfews at a time when players weren't often held to account for their actions. After Anson retired in 1897, he told the Chicago Times-Herald, "I have not burned the candle at both ends. I have not drank and I have not smoked since I was convinced it was not well for me to do so,” and he expected no less from his players.

        Anson was a ruthless manager with an explosive temper who was known to frequently berate umpires and opposing players. The one black mark on Anson is his overt racism and involvement in banning black players from playing organized baseball. He was a bigot who protested vehemently when the Newark Little Giants wanted to start a black pitcher, Harry Stovey, in an 1887 exhibition game against the White Stockings. Anson refused to field his team and Stovey was held out of the game. However, he held little actual power and the extent of his influence on the owners' decision to keep blacks out of the majors is debatable.

        Anson left Chicago in 1897 because he felt betrayed by team president Albert Spalding. Anson was trying to raise money to buy a share in the team. When he signed his contract in 1889, it included a revenue sharing plan but when it came time for Anson to collect, Spalding claimed he had put all of the team's profits into building the new West Side Stadium. Anson was left with nothing. Spalding tried to make it up to Anson by throwing a retirement party but Anson, as iron-willed as ever, refused to take part. He briefly managed the New York Giants in 1898 before leaving baseball for good.

        Anson was one of baseball's first ambassadors as well, touring the world to promote and teach the game. When Anson Died in April 1922, newspapers throughout America described him as "the grand old man of baseball."
        Last edited by RBi; 03-05-2006, 11:54 AM.
        "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
        Carl Yastrzemski


        • #5

          Thanks for posting the stories! Continue to use this thread as you add more.


          • #6
            Those are great Troy! Keep up the good work.
            A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn't work hard for validation. I didn't play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that's what you're supposed to do, play it right and with respect. If this validates anything, it's that learning how to bunt and hit and run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light at the dug out camera. - Ryne Sandberg


            • #7
              Thanks's another one you might enjoy.....
              "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
              Carl Yastrzemski


              • #8
                It’s All About R-E-S-P-E-C-T for “Sweet Swinging” Billy Williams

                Ask most Cubs fans to name the other player who could have laid claim to the title Mr. Cub and the first name to enter most minds will be that of a mechanical, methodically consistent outfielder whose career also took to him to Cooperstown.

                If Ernie Banks had never donned the uniform, “Sweet Swinging” Billy Williams might well have earned that very honor for himself. For thirteen of his eighteen major league seasons he played in the shadow of the hugely popular Banks and although he got it from opposing pitchers, Williams never got the respect he deserved from the fans or the media in Chicago or the rest of the country.

                His 147 hits, 25 home runs, 86 RBI’s and .277 batting average were enough to earn him the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1961, but the media’s attention was focused on Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris who were dueling to surpass Babe Ruth’s legendary season-high home run total and in 1972 he finished a distant second behind Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench and forced to take the proverbial back seat again.

                After more than a decade of great accomplishments and keeping silent about the lack of respect he received for them, it was clear the usually tight-lipped Alabaman was beginning to resent being taken for granted when he told the Sporting News he was very unhappy with the voting results. Williams hit 37 home runs with 122 RBIs while maintaining a .333 average while Bench, who topped Williams’ home run and RBI total by three, had batted a whopping 63 points lower but got the award because the Reds won the pennant that year. A year earlier Willie Stargell, who had led the Pittsburgh Pirates the National League pennant, lost out to Joe Torre who was giving the award because of his better statistics.

                The 1972 voting wasn’t even close. Bench had easily captured the award and Williams, who had been baseball’s most consistent hitter over the past five years, was angry in his own soft-spoken way.

                “Every year there seems to be a different set of rules. Look at the figures. I was ahead in average and almost even in home runs and RBIs. You have to feel you weren’t awarded something you deserved and it a feeling that sticks with you.”

                “Well after 13 years in the big leagues I’m going to let the other guy be the nice guy. I’m going to speak out if I see something. You get tired of people saying it’s easy for you to hit .300. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work.

                For his entire career, other, more colorful Cubs overshadowed him in his own ballpark. If he wasn’t competing for attention with Ernie Banks Ron Santo and Ferguson Jenkins, he was doing so with his own manager Leo Durocher whose “lip” was legendary for drawing the attention of fans and the media as well as the ire of his own players; now Williams’ lack of nation-wide media attention had possibly cost him the hard earned MVP award. Williams’ career was drawing to a close at the end of the 1972 campaign and he was only two years away from leaving the Cubs. He had spent the peak years of his career quietly building a Hall of Fame resume while trying to earn the respect he was so deserving of in Chicago.

                When the following season rolled around the Cubs had made it clear that he did not fit into their plans for the future when they tried to convert him to first base during spring training. He was doomed to failure in that position so the Cubs grudgingly moved him back to left field, but the writing was on the wall.

                Williams was traded to the World Champion Oakland Athletics after the 1974 season where he hoped to finally get the respect he deserved by winning a World Series ring.

                The ring never came, but the respect did when the writers who had ignored him during his playing days recognized his incredible career by electing him to the Hall of Fame in 1987. Only ten days later he returned to Wrigley Field where his number 26 was raised to fly with Mr. Cub’s.
                Last edited by RBi; 03-07-2006, 02:52 PM.
                "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
                Carl Yastrzemski


                • #9
                  Good job to whoever stickied it.
                  "I don't like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pitcher."
                  -Rogers Hornsby-

                  "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
                  -Rogers Hornsby-

                  Just a note to all the active members of BBF, I consider all of you the smartest baseball people I have ever communicated with and love everyday I am on here. Thank you all!


                  • #10
                    Hack Wilson was a Giant Loss

                    In early August 1925 John McGraw had a slew of outfielders on his Giants roster so he decided to send a seemingly unknown, struggling hitter to the minors for some work on the fine art of hitting curveballs. The consequences of the move would manifest themselves in a protest that would reach the desk of commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis and haunt the New York field boss for years.

                    That following October, Robert Lewis “Hack” Wilson was left unprotected in the minor league draft, leaving the door wide open for the team with the next pick to steal the future hall of famer right out from under McGraw and the Giants.

                    That team was the Chicago Cubs.

                    Theories abound as to why Hack was left unprotected by the Giants. One theory has the Boston Red Sox telling Giants management they intended to draft Toledo Mudhen second bagger Fred McGuire in the first round of the draft, but the Sox instead took third baseman Chester Fowler; the rules of the draft stated only one player could be taken from each team and if McGuire went first, Wilson became untouchable.

                    Another theory, one Wilson always though most likely, has McGraw fed up with the slugger’s drinking and telling the club not to exercise his option. Wilson was under the strong impression he would be called up to New York for the 1926 season but McGraw had “soured” on him and purposely left him unprotected.

                    The theory McGraw would cling to for the rest of his life, and the one which was the basis for the Giants protest to Landis, had Giants secretary James Tierney failing, through a clerical error, to exercise Wilson’s option for the 1926 season.

                    In reality, McGraw most likely sent Wilson to Toledo to hide him until he could decide what to do with the promising young outfielder. Wilson had hit a respectable .295 for the Giants in 1924 but had slumped to a measly .239 by the summer of 1925 and McGraw, not believing anyone knew how good Wilson really was, thought the 25-year-old up and comer was safe from the clutches of another team.

                    McGraw would soon find how wrong he was.

                    Joe McCarthy, recently hired to replace George Gibson who had the misfortune to take over a team that would finish 271/2 out of first place in 1925, had an uncanny ability to spot talent and being well aware of Wilson’s prowess at the plate, McCarthy jumped at the opportunity to add his bat to the Cubs line-up.

                    For years baseball historians have debated the actual reason Wilson wound up a Cub, but speculation aside, playing for Joe McCarthy was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. The usually discipline honed McCarthy had a soft spot for Wilson and was well suited to handle his fellow Pennsylvanian’s alcohol related problems on and off the field.

                    Under McCarthy, Wilson thrived. In 1926 he hit .321, drove in 109 runs and captured the first of three consecutive home run titles. His 39 home runs and 156 RBIs in1929 led the Cubs to their first World Series appearance since 1918, and Wilson’s 1930 campaign is nothing short of legendary. He drove in a staggering 191 runs and his 56 home runs that season stood as the National League bench mark until Mark McGuire passed him on his way to breaking Roger Maris’ major league record of 61 in 1998.

                    Throughout his career Wilson was a heavy drinker. His teammates in New York had, for the most part, hid his drinking from John McGraw and Joe McCarthy’s tolerance of his behavior had been a stabilizing factor for Wilson in Chicago, but in 1931 McCarthy left the Cubs for the greener pastures of Yankee Stadium. The fragile slugger with his 5’6” bulldog frame and 18-inch collar was now under the guidance of Rogers Hornsby. Hornsby, who had a history of run-ins with his own players, was not about to tolerate from Wilson what McCarthy had.

                    With Hornsby at the helm Wilson’s production slipped considerably. He had frequent clashes with the hall of fame player-manager and was frequently benched for not producing at the plate. Wilson hit a paltry .261 in 1931 and could only muster 61 RBI’s. Wilson lasted only one more season in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field and was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for spitball veteran Burleigh Grimes at the end of the season. Two months later the Brooklyn Dodgers acquired him. He had two good seasons back in New York, but was never able to recapture the magic of his record breaking 1930 season. He played his final season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

                    Wilson died in penniless in 1948 of internal hemorrhaging brought on by his alcoholism.

                    In March 1979, baseball’s veteran’s committee elected Wilson to The Baseball Hall of Fame.
                    "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
                    Carl Yastrzemski


                    • #11
                      Ron Santo: The Best Elidgible Player Not in Cooperstown.

                      In April 1960 a hustling, spirited third baseman departed the Chicago Cubs’ spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona for what might have been an uncertain future for any other player, but for Ron Santo, being sent to the farm was merely a set back. As he left camp bound for the minor leagues he told anyone who would listen, “I’ll be back.”

                      Santo did make the team that spring but was informed of his option to Houston of the Southern League when the Cubs acquired Don Zimmer from the Los Angeles Dodgers for John Goryl and Lee Handley just days before the season began. The 20-year-old rookie from Seattle was ready to throw in the towel at that point when general manager John Holland took him aside and assured him he would be recalled quickly.

                      Less than three months later the Cubs were mired in a slump and resided in the National League cellar. Nine straight losses hung over manager Lou Boudreaus’s head. Needing to get the team moving in the right direction, the Cubs made a couple roster changes, but none was more crucial than its purchase of Santo’s contract. The Cubs were confident Santo would be the team’s outstanding rookie that year, and although he got off to a slow start in Houston, that confidence had not waned. He was told to join the team June 26 for a double header against Roberto Clemente and the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field.

                      Santo’s major league debut can be called nothing short of spectacular. When he arrived at the park he was amazed. He had never entered a major league stadium before and was naturally very nervous about being in the line up for the first time in front of 36,000 apposing fans. Figuring Santo was probably jittery, veteran shortstop Ernie Banks approached him in the dug out and told him to look at Pirate starters Bob Friend and Vern Law as triple A pitchers and he would be fine. His introduction to major league pitching came in the form of a Bob Friend curve ball that almost ended up in his ear, but he took the next pitch, a fastball, up the middle for single. In the fifth inning he cleared the bases when he sent a line drive double over the head of shortstop Dick Grout. He added two more RBI’s in the second game on a single and a sacrifice fly.

                      The following day the Cubs pulled into Cooperstown for the annual Hall Of Fame exhibition game where 7,500 fans filled the wooden benches of Doubleday Field to see the Cubs take on Boudreau’s former team the Cleveland Indians. Also on hand that day were baseball legend Ty Cobb, Frank Baker, Joe Cronin and Joe McCarthy who witnessed Santo deliver a three-run home run to a destination that would soon become known to balls hit off his bat: the left field bleachers. As well as his prowess at the plate, Santo demonstrated his defensive skills that day when he scooped up a hard hit Hank Foiles grounder and bare handed a bunt down the third base line, his throw beating Mark Keough to first by only a step.

                      The Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 5-0 but more importantly, Santo showed the baseball world he was for real. By the end of July, a month when rookies historically start coming down to earth, he was batting .293 with four home runs and 21 RBI’s, including a two day span that saw him take hall of fame pitchers Warren Spahn and Robin Roberts out of the park. Santo was doing just what Cubs’ management had predicted; he was going deep and driving in runs. In a town devoted to Ernie Banks the fans were starting to talk about the rookie third baseman with the great glove and by the end of the season the comparisons to Stan Hank were beginning.

                      Over the next three months Santo added another five home runs and 24 RBI's to his total, but despite his personal success the Cubs closed out the season a dismal thirty-five games behind the Pirates. Santo headed back to Seattle to prepare for the upcoming season and await the birth of his first child with his future looking bright.

                      The Cubs started the 1961 season right where they left off, but while the team struggled to win Santo continued to shine both at the plate and the hot corner. The Cubs finished April three games under .500 and despite the team’s continuing woes, Santo collected eleven rbi’s and put together an eight game hitting streak. He sent 23 balls out of the park that year and doubled his RBI total to 88. The next two years saw him consistently increase his production at the plate but his 1964 performance was the gem of his career.

                      Santo entered the season armed with more patience at the plate, a burning need to succeed and set out to hit .300 and hit the 100 RBI mark for the first time in his career. He had missed both by only three points and one RBI the year before and by July he was well on his way to reaching his goal. By mid-June he was hitting .312 and heading toward a July that would set the National League on its ear. On July 3rd the Cubs were in Milwaukee facing Tony Cloninger and the Braves when Santo embarked on the Cubs longest hitting streak of the season. The streak ended 14 games later when Don Drysdale sat him down four times in a row in Los Angeles. During the streak he had 25 hits in 51 trips to the plate giving him a .490 average and .325 thus far for the season. When all was said and done Santo posted a .314 average and drove in 114 runs. Ken Boyer’s 119 RBIs and .295 average was enough for MVP honors that year but if the Cubs had been in contention Santo may well have wrestled the award away from him.

                      Santo, known throughout the league as a fierce competitor, got off to another great start in 1965 remaining a stable factor on an otherwise unstable team. He finished the season with thirty home runs, 94 RBI's and hit .285. 1966 and 1967 saw him only add to totals that should have seen him enshrined in Cooperstown five years after he retired in 1974.

                      In the eight seasons Santo spent with the team prior to 1969, the Cubs had never finished higher than third in the standings. The Cubs entered the season with high hopes after strong finishes the two previous seasons and as the new campaign started Santo was coming off his best spring training to date. Not only was he hitting for average but he displayed great power at the plate with a team leading seven home runs and 24 RBI's. He also maintained his high base on balls total from the previous two seasons with sixteen during the 28 game exhibition schedule.

                      Despite his strong spring showing, Santo began the season in a slump. By the end of April he was hitting only .231 with three home runs and six rbi’s. He recovered quickly and by they end of June was ahead of Ernie Banks with 69 rbi’s and by mid-July he had pulled himself up the .300 mark; always the pull hitter, he was now showing remarkable plate discipline, trying to hit every pitch back up the middle and not over the left field fence. By mid-August the Cubs were 81/2 games ahead of the Mew York Mets and closing in on their first pennant in 24 years and the city was excited. But the hits ceased for the Cubs in September and the Mets were becoming unbeatable winning 38 of their last 49 games. On September 10 the Mets passed the Cubs and never looked back. Santo, of course, was very disappointed with the teams collapse and felt even worse for the fans that had been waiting for this opportunity since 1945.

                      In August 1971, in front of 35,000 Wrigley faithful, Santo made a startling revelation to the baseball world; he had played his entire career battling diabetes. He had received the news from a lab in Seattle the same day he signed with the Cubs in 1960. With the urging of the Diabetes Association of Greater Chicago, Santo agreed to make the announcement. He had concealed the illness for thirteen years for fear of being forced into early retirement, but now wanted to show those suffering that they could indeed lead normal lives.

                      In December 1973 the unthinkable happened; Santo was traded. The Cubs tried to deal him to the Los Angeles Angels earlier that month, but Santo became the first player to refuse a trade under the new 10 and 5 rule that stated a player with ten years in the league and 5 years service with the same team could veto any trade offer. The Angels were offering him $200,000 a year, double what he was making with the Cubs but he had a successful business in Chicago and was unwilling to leave. He made it clear to the Cubs; if they were going to trade him it would have to be to a Chicago team and the only other team in the Windy City was the White Sox. He signed a two-year deal with the cross-town rivals but dead pull hitter Bill Melton already occupied third base so Santo divided his time between second base and the new designated hitter position. After hitting only 5 home runs in 117 games and posting a .221 average, he decided to retire.

                      Over the course of his hall of fame caliber career, Ron Santo’s stellar defense earned him five straight Gold Glove awards from 1964 to 1968 and the comparisons to his defense at the hot corner still rage in the Chicago media to this day 32 years after his retirement. Santo appeared in nine all-star games and hit 20 or more home runs in 11 different seasons. When he finally laid down his bat in 1974 he had amassed 342 home runs, 1331 RBI and had hit over .300 on four occasions; yet he still has not been received baseball’s highest honor.

                      Santo was a better hitter than at least three of his contemporaries who are already enshrined: Pie Traynor, Jimmy Collins and Brooks Robinson. Although some believe his career length has hurt his chances, he is number eight on the all time list of games played at third base. In 2002 Robinson rang in on why he thought Santo had not yet been elected to Cooperstown. He said that Santo has the Gold Glove awards and he had an impact on the game. He speculates that since the Cubs had never won during Santo’s tenure, the writers probably thought three players from those teams were enough, adding, “that’s not a valid reason. If a guy belongs, he belongs.”

                      In 1990 Santo started down a new road when he accepted a job as color commentator for WGN. A former Cub great and one of the teams biggest supporters was now calling the action on the field. With an obvious love for the Cubs, he has since filled the void left by Harry Caray after his death in 1998. Santo continues his fight to help those with diabetes, a disease he lost parts of both legs to, with his walks for diabetes and he was awarded The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Person Of The Year Award in 2002.

                      40,000 fans gathered at Wrigley Filed at the end of the 2003 season to witness the Cubs raise Santo’s familiar # 10 to the top of the left field foul pole. It’s not Cooperstown, but Santo says that pole is his hall of fame.
                      Last edited by runningshoes; 05-14-2006, 09:05 AM.
                      "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
                      Carl Yastrzemski


                      • #12
                        ^^^^ I had a hard time with that one. I had a huge block and I couldn't focus. If anyone notices any inaccuracies or something vital I've missed, please let me know.
                        "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it."
                        Carl Yastrzemski


                        • #13
                          Its an insult to keep Santo out of the HOF. I watched him his entire career and he was one of the best 3rd basemen ever. In the field he was a marvel. He was a clutch hitter too. And importance to a team and a city??? Santo was up their with Ernie. I'll never forget him signing autographs for the kids or kicking his heels after a win. The guy just oozed baseball and class, the whole time battleing that terrible disease.

                          Sometimes I think the characters doing the voting for the Hall are a bunch of schmucks.
                          "Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never." :hyper:


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Whitesoxnut
                            Its an insult to keep Santo out of the HOF. I watched him his entire career and he was one of the best 3rd basemen ever. In the field he was a marvel. He was a clutch hitter too. And importance to a team and a city??? Santo was up their with Ernie. I'll never forget him signing autographs for the kids or kicking his heels after a win. The guy just oozed baseball and class, the whole time battleing that terrible disease.

                            Sometimes I think the characters doing the voting for the Hall are a bunch of schmucks.

                            we can actually agree on something


                            • #15
                              I can not wait to read more here..

                              Perhaps Dawson... Harry Caray?

                              And you know I am always up for a Grace story...



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