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Cubs Family Comes Through Like Champs To Honor Ron Santo At Wake

The Ricketts family and other members of Cubs management helped comfort fans at Ron Santo's wake -- a classy gesture.

The Cubs couldn't do much of anything right on or off the field in 2010.

But they saved their best for last for their ultimate symbol of loyalty.

The team was very much involved with handling the public and private wake of Ron Santo Thursday at Holy Name Cathedral as many hundreds of fans lined up to pay their last respects. Each and every fan who attended was given the utmost in appreciation by the brass in attendance.

While Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts shook hands and comforted fans as they filed forward toward Santo's casket in the cathedral, team president Crane Kenney and GM Jim Hendry, who was visibly moved by the entire scene, went through the entire line of fans waiting to get in, greeting and shaking hands as they tried to warm themselves against the sub-freezing chill.

"He was a fan, and as a fan people really connected to him," said Kenney. "He was family to us and to you, too. He was something between a brother and father to us."

Kenney said the staff meeting last Friday in which Santo's death was discussed was the toughest in which he had ever participated.

"I think all of us got choked up and had trouble going forward," he said. "But we had a mission to make sure this event was done right and work with the (Santo) family, and spend time with Vicki and Jeff and Ron, Jr.

Kenney called the fans filing through the church Santo's "extended family."

Even though some fans said later they didn't want to shake Hendry's hand because of disagreements over his baseball decisions, trades and free agency and contracts were the furthest from the GM's mind when he went through the outside queue of Santo backers.

"These people are showing what Ron Santo's all about -- the greatest," Hendry said. "I'd stand out here with them if they wanted me to. I appreciate the fans. This guy's as good as it gets.

"We all knew that at any time with his health he could go, but it still seems so sudden, the way it happened. We just never thought it would happen. You'd think that Ronnie was going to keep fighting through it and last forever like he always has."

Ron, Jr. and Jeff Santo extended themselves by staying on for the public part of the wake, greeting fans by the casket. The latter was adorned by the original No. 10 blue pinstriped flag used to retire Santo's number on Sept. 28, 2003. Atop the flag rested one of Santo's five Gold Gloves for fielding excellence at third.

Many fans detoured into the pews after filing past the casket, kneeling to pray for their hero.

Ricketts was accompanied by brother Todd and sister Laura. During the private part of the wake, baseball people paying their respects included Cubs manager Mike Quade and pitcher Sean Marshall, Yankees manager Joe Girardi, and ex-Cub Kerry Wood. Longtime Santo teammate Randy Hundley greeted the Santo brothers as the public part of the ceremony began. Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who is spending the winter in Arizona so daughter Riley, afflicted with diGeorge's Syndrome, can take advantage of the warm, dry air and minimize exposure to viruses, missed the wake, but was expected to be back in time for the funeral Friday.

The entire scene was draped in class. Nothing less would do for This Old Cub.