As reported by the Chicago Tribune Friday morning, former Chicago Cubs third baseman and longtime radio broadcaster Ron Santo died on Thursday in Arizona, his winter home, aged 70. Santo would have been 71 in February.
Santo was a native of Seattle and signed with the Cubs out of high school in 1958. Two years later, he was in the major leagues, having just barely turned 20 years old, and despite playing only half a season that year, finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. By 1963 he was an All-Star -- he made the NL All-Star team nine times in his 15-year career -- and he finished in the top twelve of MVP balloting five times.
Widely considered to be the best third baseman of his era, Santo hit 337 home runs as a Cub and five more after he was traded to the White Sox when the Cub team of the late 1960s and early 1970s, who came close to making the playoffs but never did, was broken up. Santo played one year for the White Sox and then retired. He did all of this with juvenile diabetes, the first high-profile athlete to go public with this disease. He helped raise funds for JD research after his retirement.
After 15 years in private business, Santo took the position of color commentator for Cubs radio broadcasts, even saying at the time that he was doing so to increase his visibility for the Hall of Fame. But he was never elected, despite campaigns on his behalf by fans and others.
Santo was one of the most popular Cubs of all time and though some didn't care for his style on the radio, everyone loved and admired his passion for the game. He is mourned today by all Cubs fans and everyone in baseball's family.