So many words have been written about Ron Santo's life and death that there isn't much I can add. Except maybe my own Santo story.
In 2002 my wife, Karen, was the editor of Diabetic Cooking Magazine. She started a feature called "Tales from the Front" in which she did interviews with people from all walks of life who were coping with the disease. We were going on our annual spring training pilgrimage to Mesa, Arizona, and an article on Santo was an easy sell to the publisher who, like us, was a long time Cubs fan. So we contacted Ron through the Cubs, and he invited us to his home in Scottsdale.
Ron had recently had his right leg amputated and was still learning to get around on his new prosthesis. So he was on crutches, but was upbeat and gracious throughout the interview. It was tough for Karen to keep him on the subject of diabetes, because he and I started talking Cubs. When he came up to the Cubs, I was still living in Chicago and he quickly became one of my favorite players. So we reminisced about those days, and the discussion rambled to the prospects of today's Cubs. Karen tried valiantly to keep him on message, but we were having too much fun talking baseball. Consequently, an interview that should have been done in 30 minutes lasted nearly two hours. I shot the photos for the piece, including the one above where Ron is posing with the picture of the all-time Cubs team. Naturally, he is at third base.
About four years later, I ran into Santo in the Wrigley Field press room before a game. By this time his left leg had been amputated and he was walking around on two prostheses. One was decorated with Cubs home pinstripes, the other with traveling grays. Both bore his number 10. I introduced myself, and reminded him about the interview for Diabetic Cooking. Now, I don't know if he really remembered that one out of countless interviews, but if he didn't he did a good job of acting like he had.
Everybody has written about Santo's graciousness and positive outlook on life. I was fortunate to experience it first hand. That he didn't make it into baseball's Hall of Fame during his lifetime is the Hall of Fame's shame. Sometimes we equate clutch hitting or pitching with courage. Courage is living life to the fullest and maintaining an upbeat, positive outlook in the face of multiple problems and misfortunes. Ron Santo exemplified courage. He led a Hall of Fame life.