It's terrific that Ron Santo has finally achieved Hall of Fame status, thanks to the Golden Era committee. It's sad that it comes a year and two days after he passed away.
I had the chance to chat with Santo a few times during his broadcast career, and it was pretty clear he thought he had Hall of Fame credentials. He played for a team in the Cubs that never made the postseason and he didn't reach either 500 home runs or 3,000 hits leading many voters among baseball writers to view him as simply another above-average player not worthy of induction over his 15 years on their ballot.
It's a team game, and I believe wholeheartedly that had Santo played for the Dodgers, the Yankees or the Cardinals during those same years, he would've been a Hall of Famer many years ago.
Santo might've won the Ford Frick Award for his work in the broadcast booth, but make no mistake about it: a Frick Award winner isn't really a Baseball Hall of Famer. Anyone who works at the Hall of Fame will tell you that.
Santo, whose career numbers are magnified when you find out he suffered from diabetes for his entire career, kept his disease to himself for many years. He eventually lost both legs to the illness, but his spirit and passion for the game never diminished.
I'm disappointed Jim Kaat and Minnie Minoso didn't receive the required 12-of-16 votes required for election. Both men are deserving. I also sympathize with those fans of the late Gil Hodges, whose career stats were comparable to Santo's, and who had the added bonus of winning a World Series as both a player and a manager. Hodges once received more than 63 percent of the vote from the writers - Santo never got more than 43 percent - yet Hodges, who has been idolized by many in the game for decades, is still on the outside looking in. (By the way, all three of these players - Kaat, Minoso and Hodges - have connections to the Washington Senators.)
There will likely be a sizable contingent of Cubs fans at the induction ceremonies in July in Cooperstown. It's just a shame that they'll only have some video footage of Santo to stand and cheer for.