Manager Dale Sveum came up with a most thoughtful way to honor Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo on the day of his induction into the Hall of Fame. Cubs players, as they took their positions Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium, clicked their heels like Santo often would decades ago after a big victory at Wrigley Field:
That's David DeJesus, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Alfonso Soriano, Bryan LaHair, Steve Clevenger, Darwin Barney and Luis Valbuena paying tribute to Santo, who died in 2010. (The pitcher and catcher were exempted for some reason.)
Earlier in the day at Cooperstown, N.Y., Santo's wife Vicki Santo gave a moving induction speech on her husband's behalf, and there couldn't have been too many dry eyes within earshot. Ron Santo was a great ballplayer and quite deserving of being in the Hall of Fame, but more than that, he was a hero to those with diabetes. Especially to kids with juvenile diabetes.
You'll never know all he did for others, and he did so very much in private. In public, he raised more than $65 million for JDRF. He felt he had been put here for that reason. He felt it was his reason for still being here when the odds were so stacked against him the last decade of his life.
He embraced his gift and his hardship equally believing that one would not have mattered without the other. He believed in his journey and he believed in his cause. His journey has led him here to Cooperstown and his cause is finding a cure.
It's funny. Not everyone liked it when Santo clicked his heels, it should be noted, even though it was no more showy than a fist pump or a high-five is today. Yet, more than one person has theorized that it's one of the reasons Santo failed for so long to measure up in the Cooperstown popularity contest. Considering that he was playing with diabetes before we really knew how to control it, I wonder if anyone critical of Santo at the time for showboating would have cut him some slack, had they known. It's possible he was kicking up his heels simply because he was happy to be alive.
And, if it's possible, Santo was happy with the speeches delivered by his wife and fellow inductee Barry Larkin on Sunday.
By the way: The players couldn't transform the goodwill of the gesture into a victory, falling 7-0 against the Cardinals, who completed a three-game sweep. Hey, it was still a nice thought.
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