According to the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan, local bar owner Beth Murphy played hero on Monday when she spotted and retrieved a pile of Ron Santo memorabilia the Chicago Cubs say they threw away accidentally. The memorabilia, which included a card signed by fans following Santo's death, was found in a dumpster outside Wrigley Field. Once retrieved, the items were temporarily put on display at Murphy's Bleachers bar. They will be turned over to the Santo family this weekend.
“I’m glad the stuff was saved by Beth Murphy and I’m looking forward to going to see it Saturday,” said Jeff Santo, son of the late Cubs icon.
The Cubs also found themselves caught in a lie over the situation when spokesman Julian Green told a radio station on Tuesday that the Cubs had retrieved the memorabilia and were holding on to it. The Tribune reports he eventually changed his story and said the Cubs didn't know where the memorabilia had disappeared to.
Then came Wednesday.
The latest twist came Wednesday when tavern owner Murphy, the primary spokeswoman for the rooftop owners association that is battling the Cubs over their renovation plans, said she had the memorabilia in her bar.
Murphy said she instructed a couple of bartenders to get the items from the dumpster. The items were on display in her bar Wednesday.
“I saw them when I was walking my dog,” Murphy said. “I’m a big Ron Santo fan and I thought we should display them. At first I didn’t want the Santo family to know it was in the dumpster. But I did give them right of first refusal.”
Not a good look for the Cubs, though president Crane Kenney went right to work on mending any potentially damaged fences by calling the Santo family to apologize. Kenney reiterated that the dumping was purely accidental, though it remains unclear what the Cubs intended to do with it beyond letting it collect dust.
Jeff Santo noted that it was nice that Kenney called him personally, but added that his dad would be the first person to laugh about the incident if he was still around. That's a fact, too. Ron Santo was never one to take himself seriously, and the incident likely would have led to a classic exchange with Pat Hughes, his long-time broadcast partner from Cubs radio.
It's not a big deal to the Santo family, but some are still wondering if Murphy's intentions weren't entirely pure due to her standing with the rooftop owners association.
“No, I live in the neighborhood and I’m a huge Ron Santo fan,” she replied. “I loved him on the radio, had never seen anyone play third base like him and loved his personality.”
Murphy said it was a coincidence she saw the discarded items in the dumpster.
“It was almost like it was displayed in the dumpster,” she said. “It was hard to miss.”
The entire story is a little odd, but there's not much to be gained even if Murphy was out to embarrass the Cubs. Since the end result is Santo's family getting the memorabilia for themselves, we'll call it a win for everybody and move on.