Saturday, December 10, 2011

Golden Era Third Baseman: Ron Santo

During my formative baseball years, the decade from the mid-1960s to mid-1970s, Ron Santo was the best third baseman in the National League.  Santo inexplicably received short shrift from the Hall of Fame voters during his lifetime.  On December 5, however, almost exactly a year after his death, Santo was inducted into the Hall by the 16-member "Golden Era Committee."

I'm not sure what the Hall has against third baseman but I surprised to learn that Santo is only the eleventh  player from that position to be elected.  And while he may not rank as high as the top five of the six who played within the last fifty years (Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson,George Brett and Eddie Matthews), Santo would be next on the list, at least the equal of Wade Boggs, the last third baseman elected to the Hall.

Santo hit 342 home runs, drove in 1,331, was a 9-time All Star and won five Gold Gloves.  The offensive numbers may not sound that impressive compared to the more bloated stats of today, but Keith Olbermann digs deeper to show that he was one of the top hitters of his era.

And while I do not believe that the illusive quality of bad character should be a disqualifier for entry into the Hall (see Hall on Steroids), there is something to be said for someone like Santo who played so hard and so well despite suffering from diabetes, which he concealed from the public for most of his career, and who was such a legend in Chicago, where he was so deservedly beloved by Cub fans. 


Post a Comment