Updated: 8:15 p.m.
DALLAS There wasnt any middle ground with Ron Santo. It was either joy or agony.
This was the missing piece for Santo and his family and friends. This is where the Cubs believe he belongs, even if the timing was bittersweet.
You wont get any argument from teammates who admired his toughness, or the fans who loved listening to him on the radio, or the kids who benefited from the 60 million he helped raise for juvenile diabetes research.
One year after his death, Santo was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Golden Era veterans committee. He received 15 out of 16 votes from the panel, an overwhelming consensus after so many years of frustration.
The choice was revealed on Monday at the winter meetings, inside a Hilton Anatole ballroom. Back in Arizona, Santos widow Vicki could imagine him on the couch pumping his fist.
We dared to dream this because it was so important to Ron and such a long time coming, Vicki said. Im just a believer in what was meant to be. Unfortunately, it didnt happen during his lifetime. But this is going to continue his legacy.
Santos retired No. 10 flies at Wrigley Field, and he was resigned to that being his Hall of Fame. This time he needed 12 votes for induction Jim Kaat (10), Gil Hodges (nine) and Minnie Minoso (nine) were among the nine who were denied.
Billy Williams a great friend and teammate since Double-A ball in San Antonio, where they drew the eye of Rogers Hornsby in 1959 emerged as a leading voice on the committee. Their statues face each other outside Wrigley Field. Now Santos place in Cooperstown is also secure.
I think he would click his heels, Williams said. I know that he would rejoice. He was the kind of guy (who) was real high and real low. (Hed) really rejoice on the good things, (but) when he didnt do so well, hed get too down on himself (and) beat himself (up) in the clubhouse.
But I think after the news (today hed) say, Jesus Christ, I waited a long time, but now I made it. Im just going to enjoy it. Hed probably have a glass of red wine.
A nine-time All-Star, Santo could match almost anyone from his era. During his 15-year playing career (1960-1974), only Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Williams also reached 2,000 hits, 300 homers and 1,300 RBI.
It was long overdue and thats why its bittersweet, said Andre Dawson, who was on the ballot nine times before getting into Cooperstown. Ronnie and I just always talked about the Hall of Fame and the battles that he would have, how his perspective on life had changed and how through all of this he was still able to be so humble.
Besides Santo, Mike Schmidt is the only other third baseman to have more than 300 homers and five Gold Gloves. Yet the Baseball Writers Association of America was never really impressed, giving him between 3.9 and 43.1 percent of the vote during his 15 years on the ballot.
Ive been pulling for him for a long time, said Brooks Robinson, another Hall of Fame third baseman. I really couldnt quite figure it out why he hadnt gotten in through the writers.
I asked a few guys on our committee and youd always hear things about how (the Cubs) never won, which might be a part of it. Clicking his heels might be a part of it and you have three guys off his team in the Hall of Fame and they werent putting anyone else in.
Who knows? He certainly has the statistics to stack up against anyone in the Hall of Fame.
In the final analysis, Williams said Santos off-the-field contributions influenced the committee. Santo promoted the game for 21 seasons on WGN, Cubs fans laughing and groaning along with him on the radio. He also became a tireless fundraiser and inspiration for those with diabetes.
Sometimes were measured by what we do off the field, Williams said. This is what Im most proud of (beyond) all those numbers he put up on the board: He never did complain. (He) went out and played the game as it should be played.
Linda Brown, Santos daughter, didnt want to use the word bittersweet, because now his grandchildren will have a place to visit, to see what he meant to so many people.
Santo didnt stop when his legs were amputated years ago. He died at the age of 70 on Dec. 3, 2010, in an Arizona hospital from complications with bladder cancer. There is some symbolism in how the final chapter was written.
The class of 2012 will be inducted on July 22, and theyll be telling their favorite Santo stories all over again.
It was always his dream, Vicki said. To even have it come after his passing, it just shows you cant give up. And thats what Ron was all about.