Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ron Santo, Summer Boy

Sad news today about the passing of Cubs Third Baseman Ron Santo. He is one of my all time baseball heroes and I'll tell you why. Not only was he a fixture of the game when I was young and got started watching and playing baseball back in the 1960s, but also because of what he did for me this summer.

Jump back for a moment now to June 2010. Dad's garage in Indiana. Too spectacular of a day to be indoors. Couldn't get Dad motivated to get out of his recliner. Yes he's 91, but he's usually busy making stuff. So I tried to think of something to get a workshop party started. 'How 'bout a wooden spoon? How hard could it be?  How 'bout I carve a spoon out of this sweet block of cherry, or is it walnut? Walnut. And I'll listen to the radio while carving.' Dad had it set to WGN.

So there I was in flat, green, farmlandy Indiana with all the doors and windows open to a perfect early summer breeze when in blew my old buddy Ron Santo. Announcing the game from 'Chi-cog-oh, home of the Cubbies, live from the Friendly Confines' -- not far from where I was born & raised. The tembre and syncopation in his voice took me back to my roots at Wrigley. "Oh fer cryin' out loud, that's just . . . uuuuuuuhhhhhhh Gaaaaad that's just a bad play all around. Wake up fellas. J--   uuuuuuuhhhhhhh."

It was a Reds vs. Cubs series. Here's the situation:

I live in Cincinnati these days. However, over the years, which team to root for had been a no brainer: the Cubs. Duh. But I wasn't a fan enough to go to games again or even stay tuned past the Weather report. Sticker on the pick-up, that's all. But on this day, Ron astutely pointed out in his inimitable radio way that the Reds were looking pretty sharp and that they could go all the way this season (they went on to win the NL Central). I loved how, despite his obvious loyalty to the Cubs, he became a fan of the electricity Cinci was generating. I started to feel kinda proud of the Reds.

The way he talked about the players and what was going on with each at-bat, the little details from a guy who's been there, who KNOWS fer Chrissakes -- completely the  Chicago of my youth. What a treasure to be there in Dad's classic, funky woodshop making spoons with Ron Santo!

Thank you, Ron. You scooped me back onto the Diamond and into loving baseball again. Since that weekend, I'm back to radio listening, reading the sports pages, going to games (this past year I've attended many UC Bearcat games and 2 games at Great American Ballpark). And also started this blog.

Everyone likes the spoons so much, I've decided to make more this summer. While listening to baseball, of course. From now on, I'm gonna call them my "Santo Spoons".

2 comments:

  1. Originally this was posted on my new baseball blog (mentioned in the second to the last paragraph) but nobody reads it yet and I didn't want Santo to get lost so here it is.

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