Griffin: Ron Santo finally enters Hall-ofFame
As a player with the Chicago Cubs, Ron Santo was the greatest defensive National League third baseman I ever saw. The expansion Montreal Expos came onto the scene in 1969 and for the next five years, Santo owned them, especially at Wrigley Field. In 42 career games vs. the Expos on Chicago's North Side, the Seattle native had 54 hits, with eight homers 39 RBIs and a .367 average. That's the Santo I remember, coming up with clutch hits late in games and making amazing Hall-of-Fame defensive plays on balls in front and to his left.
Almost a year to the day after the 70-year-old Cubs' radio broadcaster passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Golden Era Committee of the Baseball-Hall-of-Fame voted him in for induction next summer at Cooperstown.
"I thought he was just as good as anybody who's ever played over there," fellow Hall-of-Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson said after the announcement was made. "That's the reason he's in the Hall-of-Fame now.
"I guess there's guys on the outside that should be in and guys on the inside that might not should be in. I mean, everyone's got a difference of opinion. We had a wonderful discussion yesterday and just laid it our for everyone...the contributions to the game."
The format for the veterans has changed over the years and this one seems to be working. For many years, the Veterans' Committee would pitch a shutout because it was too hard to compare players from different eras. But now their is a three-year rotation of baseball's eras, with players on the ballot from the same time frame, making it easier to compare.
The process begins with 11 members of the historical overview committee for MLB, designed to create a 10-man list of nominees each year. That committee includes veteran members of the Baseball Writers Association, who then hand the final ballot over to be voted upon.
The 16-person voting panel is comprised mostly of Hall-of-Fame members, with a mix of baseball executives including Jays' president Paul Beeston and three members of the media. The discussion of the candidates, followed by the vote takes place on the Sunday of the Winter Meetings and the announcement is made on Monday.
Just as in the writers' voting for the Hall, being named on 75-percent of the ballots cast gains one entry to the Hall-of-Fame. Santo was named on 15 ballots, followed by Jim Kaat on 10, Gil Hodges and Minnie Minoso on nine, with Tony Oliva receiving eight votes. The other five candidates -- Ken Boyer, Allie Reynolds, Luis Tiant, Buzzie Bavasi and Charlie Finley -- each earned fewer than three votes. Some feel Santo should have been in much sooner, even in the 15-years he was eligible for the writers' vote.
"He's in the Hall-of-Fame now," said former teammate and fellow Hall-of-Famer Billy Williams, who was on the voting panel. "The only bad part of it is that he's not here to enjoy it. But he's in and his family will enjoy it. It's going to be a great time in Chicago."
Santo played 2,243 games from 1960-74 with the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, batting .277 with a .826 career OPS. He slammed 343 career home runs, with 1,108 walks and 1,343 strikeouts. He remained in Chicago as the legendary voice of the Cubs on radio.
Santo, a lifelong diabetic, dies at his home in Scottsdale late on December 2, 2010 of complications from bladder cancer. The announcement on the writers voting of who will join Santo next summer will be made on January 9, 2012.