The Sadness of Enshrinement
With today’s induction at Canton for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the joy that comes with it, I can’t help but be saddened and reminded of the injustice that has befallen the greatest third basemen of the 60’s (as determined by MLB Network’s “Prime 9” and Cubs fans everywhere) by the Baseball HOF in Cooperstown. I speak, of course, of Cubs legend Ron Santo. The die-hard Cubs announcer and All-Star third basemen, who passed away this past December, was never bitter about the repeated snubs by the Hall. By stats alone, this man should already have his plaque in those hallowed halls. His “instant HOF credentials” (342 HR, 2,254 H) should have made it possible for his induction by the writers in the 90’s and again when the Veterans Committee, that included 20+ retirees in the 2000’s, but alas fell short of the required percentage. Many around baseball attribute this snub to the fact the Cubs haven’t won a World Series in over a century, or even a pennant in 66 years. Fans would say it was that black cat in 1969 that started the tragic fall from first place that year and the best chance at a World Series until the mid-80’s.
When his number was retired in 2003, during that year’s post-season push, he eloquently and sentimentally said, “…having that flag flying down the left field line (with his teammates) means more to me then the Hall of Fame. That IS my Hall of Fame!” His only wish from the committee was that elected before he passed away. As much as I would love for his bust to be included by those of 1960’s teammates, I would gladly bow to his dying wish of a non-posthumous election. We will find out this coming winter whether or not his wish will be granted. It seems they may just vote him in, which seems to be his luck ever since that stupid black cat at Shea Stadium in ’69.