Friday, December 03, 2010

RIP Ron Santo

 Sad, sad news. Ron Santo passed away at the age of 70. Full details are here.

He never got to see the Cubs win the World Series. He never made it into the Hall of Fame. And there haven't been many people in the world that more desperately wanted both. That's the first thing I thought of when I heard he died this morning. I'm sure most Cub fans thought the same thing. That, and it's not going to be the same listening to the Cubs on the radio without him.

I met Ron once about ten years ago and he was very nice to me, but I don't claim to know him at all. I did, however, talk to a few people the past few years that were among his closest friends.


One of them was his broadcast partner Pat Hughes.

We discussed Ron...

Rick: Your chemistry with Ron Santo is really amazing—it’s like yin and yang. He is pure emotion—and you are the voice of reason. I’m sure that’s part of the secret to your chemistry, but there’s obviously more to it than that. It seems like you also have real affection for each other. Would that be fair to say?

Pat: Yes it would. We have amazing harmony, very few bad vibes. Forget baseball, he’s just an extraordinary human being. I’ve never met anyone like him. Beyond baseball, he’s an icon for diabetics everywhere. What he’s been through! What he’s accomplished! Ron’s an inspiration.

Rick: Have the two of you ever had a fight?

Pat: (laughs) Hell no. Anytime you work together as long as we have, you have a few minor little disagreements, but nothing bad. Never.

Rick: I used to love when you did the attendance game with him and you beat him every day. Even for something like that—his emotions were on his sleeve—he would get so upset. I know that’s what Cub fans love about him. As much as it hurts us to lose, we can hear in his voice that it hurts him even more. Do you ever worry that the strain of that is having a detrimental effect on his health?

Pat: I used to, but not anymore. The man is 70 years old. He’s had diabetes, and cancer. He’s lost his bladder and his legs. He’s gone through everything you can imagine. Why would you worry anymore? He’s like a superman, a man of steel. Plus, I think it’s better for him to get it out of his system, than to let it build up inside him.


Todd Manley was the WGN production director for years, and he beautifully captured the spirit of the Pat & Ron broadcasts in his promos...
PAT AND RON PROMO--The Marrying Type
PAT & RON PROMO--I Dream of Jeannie


I also interviewed Andy Masur, his former colleague at WGN, now the play by play man of the San Diego Padres...

Rick: The years you were at WGN were a roller coaster ride for Ron Santo; from the lows of his health problems and the Hall of Fame snubs, to the highs of the day his number was retired, and the Cubs 2003 playoff run. Was that time an emotional time for the rest of you in the booth too?

Andy: First off, I must say, that Ron Santo is one of my heroes. Not for his play on the field, but for his work and passion off the field. He was a great player, no doubt, but he’s an even better person. Ron is one of the toughest human beings I have ever met. With all the physical problems he’s encountered over the past 8 or so years, I never once heard the man utter the words “why me?” Never. That’s a quality few people have. I think about Ron every day.

As far as 2003 goes, I’m just now finding that I’m able to talk about the year and how it started and finished. Ron’s Hall of Fame snub in February of that year was devastating to all of us in the booth. He really felt that it was his year. It didn’t happen. The Cubs played remarkable baseball that season, and I’ll never forget after they clinched the division with the double header sweep of the Pirates, how many of the players I interviewed in the clubhouse, were saying “this is for Ron”.

I remember the next day, when Ron’s number was retired, looking at the sign on the fence behind the bleachers in left field “Ron Santo a perfect 10” and thinking, this has to make him feel 100 feet tall. It did. An honor well deserved.

The shame of it all though, was Ron didn’t get to enjoy the playoffs in the booth. Another health scare kept him out, and all of us in the booth, from Pat to Matt Boltz, were devastated that Ron wouldn’t be with us. I’ll never forget Pat’s call at the end of the Braves series, “Ron Santo this one’s for you!”, I still seriously get choked up just thinking about it.

So to answer your original question, yes, it was a great year, but a very emotional year for all of us.


A few years ago the Associated Press did a story about Ron, and they interviewed me as part of the piece, to get a fan's perspective. Here's a portion of that article...

People around Santo have gone to him and suggested he "detach himself a little bit," said Bob Brenly, a former broadcast partner who is now an analyst for the team's television broadcasts. "But it's not in him," he said.

Even fans have taken notice.

"When he's not on the broadcast I'm actually worried about his health," said Rick Kaempfer, a lifelong fan who has a website ( devoted to the Cubs.

Santo also has something that fans like Kaempfer value above everything else. Hope. No matter what happens, no matter how many years and how many ways the Cubs fail, Santo does not give up hope.

"I heard him talking about how the Rockies won 21 in a row a few years ago (at one stretch they won 21 of 22 games), hanging his hat on that, saying it could be us," Kaempfer said.

It is Santo's devotion to his team and his optimism that he will see the Cubs win a World Series title that helps explain the attachment that fans like Kaempfer have to Santo.

"It unifies Cub Fans," Kaempfer said.


What kind of a man was he to Cub fans? This story about meeting Ron in the summer of 1963 captures it about as well as any story I've ever heard...


As for me, I remember watching this game from the summer of 1970. The game he hit three home runs. Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd had the call.

That's the way I'm going to remember him.

Rest in Peace, Ron Santo. Cub nation already misses you. To be honest, I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it.

Joke for a Friday Morning

 Contributed by "MM"...

Texas Bank Robbery

A hooded robber burst into a Texas bank and forced the tellers to load a sack full of cash. On his way out the door, a brave Texas customer grabbed the hood and pulled it off revealing the robber's face. The robber shot the customer without a moment's hesitation.

He then looked around the bank and noticed one of the tellers looking straight at him. The robber instantly shot him also. Everyone else, by now very scared, looked intently down at the floor in silence.

The robber yelled, 'Well, did anyone else see my face?' There are a few moments of utter silence in which everyone was plainly afraid to speak.

Then, one old cowboy tentatively raised his hand, and while keeping his head down said, 'My wife got a pretty good look at you.'

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"You're So Vain"

It was released on this day in 1972. Who is this song about? Carly Simon has told only one person (who paid $50,000 for the right to find out). I can't listen to it without thinking of Warren Beatty. That's my guess.

I bought the 45 when it came out. Granted, I was 9 at the time, but I still like it. It's on my iPod.

Joke for a Tuesday morning

Contributed by "MS"...

A Little Christmas Story

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where. Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drunk all the cider and hidden the liquor.. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and an irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?'

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Not a lot of people know this.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hi Hi Hi

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac this morning...

"December 1, 1972…Wings released "Hi, Hi, Hi." The BBC banned the song for its supposedly suggestive lyrics and because of their assumption that the title phrase, "We're gonna get hi, hi, hi," was a drug reference. The sexual line the Beeb objected to is the one they heard as "get you ready for my body gun." McCartney has said the correct lyrics are "get you ready for my polygon," an abstract image."

As for the word "polygon," give me a break, Paul. Listen to it in context. There's no way that is supposed to be an abstract image. Of course, all these years later, it seems pretty tame anyway. It would never be banned today. Here's the song...

Remember Felix Pie?

The Cubs one-time hope for the future, and the Orioles current average outfielder, went completely nuts during a winter league game. You don't need to understand Spanish to figure out what's happening here...

Baseball News

The Rockies signed Troy Tulowitzki through 2020 (!)

The Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot.

The Dodgers signed Juan Uribe, and the Giants signed Miguel Tejada.

And the Cubs? (crickets)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

America's (Bunny's) Most Wanted

This is a photo of our little puppy Ivy. Looks like a mild mannered thing, doesn't she?

And, for the most part, she is. But she also has Forest Gump-like speed and a pretty powerful jaw. When you watch Bunny-TV tonight, and the Bunny news anchors start talking about a killer puppy murdering little bunnies in suburban backyards, don't be surprised if they use this photo.

Victim #2 was buried this week.

The only reason squirrels get away is because they can go up.

Brian's Song

The movie that can make grown men cry debuted on ABC-TV on this day in 1971...Grab a hankie.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beatles on iTunes

Still think that everyone that wants Beatles music already has it? Look at these sales figures...

In their first week online, the Beatles racked up worldwide sales of more than 450,000 albums and 2 million individual tracks, according to Billboard.  Apple says that the best-selling album was Abbey Road, with "Here Comes the Sun" ranked as the No. 1 individual-selling song. 

To me that's still the most interesting part of this; to see which individual song sells the best. Isn't it funny that George is outselling John and Paul? Too bad George isn't around to see it.

Minnie Minoso

The former White Sox star is 85 years old today.

I've met Minnie many times over the years. We had him on the John Landecker show nearly every year, and used him the same way every time.

If you want to know what he did, you can read about it here.

Brandon Webb

According to this, the Cubs are looking at signing Brandon Webb.

On the positive side: he won the Cy Young once and finished second in the voting twice.

On the negative side: he hasn't pitched in the majors the last two full seasons because of arm surgery.

Sounds like a Cub.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Father Knows Nothing

I just posted my latest Father Knows Nothing column. This one is called "The 12 days of Teen Christmas," and yes, it includes new lyrics to the classic (?) Christmas song.

My teen son Tommy hates it, so I think I might be on to something.

You can read it here.