Past and present Cubs remember Ron Santo

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Past and present Cubs remember Ron Santo

Friday, Dec. 3, 2010
6:17 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough said he lost a very good friend when Ron Santo died, and he believes the Cubs great should be in the Hall of Fame.

Santo, whos been the Cubs radio color commentator since 1990, died of complications from bladder cancer late Thursday night; he was 70 years old.

McDonough, who served as Cubs president from 1983 to 2007 when he joined the Blackhawks in the same role, said Santo was really an inspiration to me and millions of people.

Heres a guy who played with diabetes, suffered through cancer, was a double amputee and was probably the most enthusiastic guy who came to the ballpark every day, McDonough said prior to the Blackhawks game on Friday night. I think every day, probably for the last 15 years, was extra innings for him.

If the axiom is true that you only tease the ones you love, I think Ronny would be the guy we loved the most.

McDonough reminisced about Santo, from the pranks he played to his unique style of broadcasting.

We talked about his broadcasting all the time; there was no preparation, McDonough said. In many instances he wasnt sure who was on our roster or the other teams and he would sometimes ask his (broadcast partner) Pat Hughes, How did that guy get on base? Or he would ask When did we acquire him? And it was the guys second year. He was very unique, very charismatic.

Santo was never elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite strong numbers. In his 15-year career, the third baseman batted .277 with 2,254 hits, 342 home runs and 1,331 RBI. The Cubs, with whom he played 14 of those seasons, retired his No. 10 jersey in 2003.

McDonough said Santo belongs in Cooperstown.

I wish he wouldve been here when he goes in, and I do believe he will go in, McDonough said. I was proud to be there when we notified him that his jersey would be retired on Sept. 28, 2003. He said that day it was the greatest moment of his life. He said, This is my Hall of Fame. Its sad to me he wont be here when it happens, but I do believe it will happen.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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Kris Bryant ignites World Series nostalgia with Cubs' epic eighth-inning comeback

Kris Bryant ignites World Series nostalgia with Cubs' epic eighth-inning comeback

“Reminded me a lot of a play in the World Series.”

Kris Bryant wasn’t the only one with World Series nostalgia Saturday afternoon at the Friendly Confines. The tens of thousands of Cubs fans losing their minds over the North Siders’ eighth-inning comeback made that very clear.

Bryant, though, was the one who provided it, first driving in the game-tying run mere moments after the visiting St. Louis Cardinals smashed open a pitchers duel with back-to-back homers off Jon Lester in the top of the eighth. Bryant then got a head starts and came around all the way from first, scoring the game-winning run on a ball Anthony Rizzo dumped into the left-center field gap so perfectly he couldn’t have thrown it there any better.

Bryant slid in — feet first — beating the throw home from ex-teammate Dexter Fowler. Cue the hysteria at Clark and Addison.

“Me, honestly, I was just trying to go up the middle. I think that’s kind of where I’ve been struggling this year is with guys on base I want to do too much. Just seeing through the middle. Bat broke and flew, I don’t know where it went, but it flew somewhere. That was huge,” Bryant explained after the game.

“And then obviously with Rizz having a good at-bat off a tough lefty. I don't know if Dexter or Tommy Pham got a good read or if they were way back at the track, but right when he hit it I didn’t see them anywhere close to it so I thought there was a pretty good chance that I could score.”

Bryant’s very presence in the Cubs’ starting lineup was the headline before the game, the “freak of nature” returning from a jammed finger after missing only one game. So of course it was the reigning National League MVP who played the biggest role, flipping the script from his sick day by being right in the middle of the Cubs’ eighth-inning explosion. It was the eighth inning where the Cardinals staged their game-defining rally Friday.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Manager Joe Maddon went as far as saying that perhaps only Bryant could have made the play he did, scoring from first base on what went down as a Rizzo double.

“KB being able to play was the difference in today’s game,” Maddon said. “A combination of the hit and his speed. I don’t think anybody else scores on that. Maybe Jason (Heyward), possibly. (Ian) Happ, possibly. But KB is such a good base runner. He had it in his head the moment the ball was hit, and all (third base coach Gary) Jones had to do was wave his arm. You can’t underestimate the importance of one person in the lineup.

“He’s a very bright base runner. He’s shown that from the beginning. … He demonstrated that early on, and for me when a young player demonstrates awareness on the bases, man, that’s a good baseball player.”

All that talent made Bryant last season’s Most Valuable Player and one of the most important figures in the curse-breaking World Series championship.

Bryant mentioned he thought Saturday’s game-winning trip from first to home conjured memories of a similar play in Game 7 of last fall’s World Series, when Bryant went first to home on Rizzo’s base hit off Andrew Miller in the fifth inning.

“Reminded me a lot of a play in the World Series off of Andrew Miller. It was a full count there, started early,” Bryant said. “Rizz hit it, you’ve got to give him a ton of credit, worked a great at-bat. But the head start really does help. It's something that I take pride in is my base running, surprising people. Hopefully I did that today.”

With Bryant back in the lineup Saturday, Kyle Hendricks’ return to the rotation coming Monday, a now 7-1 record since the All-Star break and a bunched-up NL Central that had four teams within three and a half games of each other entering Saturday’s action, it’s no wonder the World Series feeling is making its way back to the North Side.

All season long, fans and observers have been waiting for that switch to flip, and maybe it finally has.

The bats were thunderous on that six-game road trip out of the All-Star break, with 16 home runs helping the Cubs to back-to-back sweeps of the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves. Friday’s loss to the Cardinals provided plenty of evidence that the rest of the season might feature a knock-down, drag-out slugfest between the four NL Central contenders. All that was missing was a game that got Wrigleyville rocking.

“Probably one of our better wins of the year,” Bryant said.

That’s all without even mentioning the efforts of Lester, who was perfect until Adam Wainwright’s single in the top of the sixth. It was another stellar effort from a Cubs starting pitcher, and what was the team’s biggest problem during that sub-.500 first half — inconsistent starting pitching — certainly seems to be ironed out.

While the standings say it’s still going to be a brawl to the end with the Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs could be in a first-place tie by the end of Saturday night.

In other words, the race is on. And Bryant and the Cubs are clicking at the right time.

“It’s already Jaugust,” Maddon joked, inventing a new month out of thin air. “There’s no waiting around right now. Everybody feels the same way. We took advantage of the break, I believe. We came back with renewed energy. You don’t want to give up anything right now.”