The Days of Santo
The easier thing would be to just get up tomorrow, slap on the chinos and a polo and shuffle off to work, as usual. Instead I’ll be up an hour earlier, donning shorts and a t-shirt apropos of the occasion and motoring solo to Chicago for, yeah, Ron Santo Day III (or is it IV? Yes, it’s IV).
When the Cubs announced it I reflexively got online and grabbed a ticket, albeit an upper deck reserved one in the interests of cost control. I’ll be driving straight back after the game for the same reason. The road/ballpark ratio comes out about 10/3; not good. I damn well better be one of the first 10,000 through the turnstiles. If I don’t come home with one of the replica HOF plaques I’m gonna feel foolish. Actually, I will anyway and why not?
See, I’m 58 going on 12. I figure since I was there on 9/28/03 when #10 was retired and on 8/10 last year when the statue was unveiled my attendance tomorrow is effectively mandatory. Never mind that I couldn’t make it on 8/28/71, Ron Santo Day I. I’m sure I was listening in. I was 17 going on 18 then. My parents probably wouldn’t let me have the car.
If I ever knew that Santo was the first player to invoke the 10/5 rule to veto a trade I’d forgotten. He didn’t want to go to the west coast and eventually got himself traded across town for Steve Stone, among others. Ironic, huh, in light of current events?
When Santo was in the lineup or the booth I listened to the Cubs on the radio a lot. Now I hardly do at all. There are several factors. The Cubs aren’t very good right now, but that’s more rule than exception when you have the panoramic perspective my (chronological) age affords. Keith Moreland doesn’t tell me much, but Santo wasn’t exactly a sabermetrician. Really, I think the underlying reason I don’t listen as much now is because I’m pissed at Pat Hughes. I used to get a kick out of his tuna sandwich/slap a twenty/ugly sweater shtick when Santo was there to chuckle at it. But things have changed.
When Santo died in late 2010 I got the news on the morning of my second book release. STUBS includes a couple of Santo-related vignettes, one of which I read at the release that evening. When Opening Day 2011 rolled around I sent a copy to Hughes, c/o Wrigley Field, hoping, selfishly, that he might mention it on the air and Cub fans everywhere would start clamoring for STUBS. In the first broadcast of the year I heard him recite some boilerplate BS about how many books get sent to them in the booth and how they can’t possibly acknowledge them all.
We’re not talking about e-mails and birthday reminders here, we’re talking about an actual book I wrote and gave you a gratis copy of. You don’t have to bother to read it, not even the bookmarked excerpts about your late sidekick, and I’m not looking for a 7th inning promo gig a la John Grisham, but if you can’t manage a brief mention of it maybe you could at least reciprocate by sending back a copy of your own book which rushed into print later that season. Any thought of that probably got lost in the shuffle of promoting that book on the air along with your Ron Santo “Voices of the Game” CD.
Now that the juice is squeezed from those sour grapes I can make them into raisins and sprinkle them on my bran flakes in the morning. Maybe I’ll even listen to the “Al Fonseca” interview from the Santo CD on the road. My son gave it to me for Christmas and it always makes me laugh.