Ronald Edward Santo joined the Chicago Cubs in 1960, and quickly established himself as a power hitting third basemen with world class fielding skills.  Fans called him, “The Pizza Man.”  The nickname originated from a pizza stand at Wrigley Field that bore his name.  But it came to symbolize his competitive desire, for fans knew that Mr. Santo was someone who could deliver in the clutch.

Mr. Santo’s list of accomplishments is exhaustive.  He is a 9-time All Star, 5-time Gold Glove winner, 2-time NL On-Base Percentage Leader, 4-time NL Bases on Balls Leader and 1-time NL Triples Leader. Mr. Santo had eleven 20-Home Run Seasons, four 30-Home Run Seasons, four100-RBI Seasons, and one 100-Runs Scored Season.

The high-water mark for the Cubs during the Santo era came in 1969.  By the end of June of that year, the Cubs were in first place with an astounding 50-27 record.  Mr. Santo’s joyous heels-clicking leap after every win captured the thrill Cubs fans felt at their team’s success.  But the baseball Gods have never been kind to the Cubbies.  A stumble in August was followed by a September swoon.  Again, Mr. Santo was, in a tangential way, to become the symbol of that collapse.  During a critical September series against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, a black cat crossed Mr. Santo’s path while he was in the on-deck circle.  The “Amazing” Mets went on to sweep the series and race past the Cubs to capture the National League pennant.  Thus, the legendary “Curse of The Black Cat” was born.

Over the next few years, the magic of ’69 evaporated as the Cubs resumed their century-long slump.  Yet Mr. Santo continued to shine.  However, in 1974, in the twilight of his illustrious career, disaster struck.  Mr. Santo quit major league baseball to join a minor league ball club, a barnstorming freak-show called the Chicago White Sox.  This team traveled the countryside entertaining children with its clownish antics.  Baseball historians believe this rare lapse in judgment fatally doomed Mr. Santo’s chances of entering Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. 

Since retiring from baseball, Mr. Santo has become recognized around the world as a goodwill ambassador for the Cubs, and has actively campaigned to raise the awareness of Juvenile Diabetes, a disease Mr. Santo suffered since age 18.  Mr. Santo has gone on to delight a whole new generation of Cubs fans by providing radio commentary for their beloved team.  Professionals in the field of broadcasting marvel at the way Mr. Santo has redefined the position.  His emotional broadcasting style captures the essence of what it means to be a Cubs fan; jovial and optimistic, then suffering in anguish when the fates deal the Cubs another unjust blow.  As one unnamed critic put it, “Mr. Santo has deconstructed color commentary, providing post-modern insight as the Cubs continue their quixotic quest to achieve success.”

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