Disrespect and Disgrace Apparent in Veteran’s Committee Election of Ron Santo
It’s finally happened.
I’m so disgusted I want to puke.
Not at the result, mind you.
While I’m on record as not being a supporter of Santo’s worthiness, but the process involved, especially the Hall of Fame in general and the Veteran’s Committee in particular.
The numbers are clearly there for Santo, he ranks eighth all-time in games played as a third baseman, and ranked second in the National League in runs batted in to the legendary Henry Aaron during the pitching dominated decade of the sixties.
A nine time All-Star and five time Gold Glove winner during his fifteen year career, Santo was forced to retire at age 34 due to complications related to his battle with Type 1 diabetes.
Diagnosed at eighteen, Santo kept his condition a secret throughout his career, making a public disclosure of his fight during ceremonies honoring his career as a Cub at Wrigley Field in 1971.
Santo’s first appearance on the BBWAA election ballot was in 1980, where he received just 1.9% of the vote, and in accordance with voting procedures was removed from further consideration.
There was such an outcry that Santo (along with several others), was reinstated to the ballot in time for the 1985 vote.
Over the next fourteen years, Santo remained on the ballot, reaching a high of 43.1% during his final year in 1998. Not only was this the only time he managed to reach forty percent, it was just the second time he managed to obtain half of the required seventy-five percent needed for election.
Following his retirement, Santo spent several years in private business before accepting an offer to join the Cubs’ broadcast team in 1990. There he would spend almost twenty years, further cementing his legend and legacy among the Cubs’ faithful which culminated with the erection of a statue in his honor outside Wrigley Field.
While its primary function is to consider non-playing personnel for the Hall, the The Veteran’s Committee also takes a look at giving “second chances” to players who were “overlooked” by the BBWAA.
Hard to overlook someone for fifteen years, wouldn’t you say?
Initially nothing more than a good ol’ boys network comprised of a handful of retired sportswriters whose only thought was to reward their drinking and card playing buddies from days gone by.
In recent times, however, the “VC” has taken on a more serious tone, its tasks and responsibilities having been re-vamped and revised four times alone since 2001.
And, yet, here we are, I guess the old adage is true; “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.
So, after fifteen years on the writers’ ballot and another dozen or so under the watchful eye of the VC, Ron Santo has finally received his just do.
One small problem, though.
On December 10, 2010, Ron Santo died.
After a fifty plus year struggle with a disease which cost him both legs, but never affected his heart or his mind, it finally cost him his life.
And only then did the Veteran’s Committee believe him to be worthy of induction.
The phone lines are starting to burn between Chicago and Cooperstown as we speak, and Santo himself is undoubtedly clicking his heels wherever he is.
Congratulations, Ronnie. My personal opinions aside, you are more than worthy of your status as a Hall of Famer and I’m proud to have seen you play during your prime.
To the Veteran’s Committee, I hope you’re all happy.
You had twelve years to “right the wrong” of the BBWAA, and had more than enough time while Ron was alive to do the right thing, you know, so he could actually be around to experience what it is to be a Hall of Famer.
But what you’re really telling us now is he only became worthy after death?
While “better late than never” is true in most cases, all you’ve really accomplished today is to disrespect the legacy and memory of a man long over-due for this honor, and once again disgraced the integrity of what it is you actually stand for in the first place.