Saturday, Feb. 26, 20112:55 PM
By Patrick Mooney
MESA, Ariz. Keith Moreland and Pat Hughes leaned over the dugout rail on Saturday morning at HoHoKam Park. They will have to fill hundreds and hundreds of hours of air time across the next seven months. They hope it will sound like an easy conversation.
Ron Santo, who died of complications from bladder cancer last December, would have turned 71 on Friday. His presence is missed throughout Cubs camp, though he is not forgotten.
Theres no doubt Ron was a great friend, a major part of this organization for 50 years, Moreland said. I have sadness and excitement all at the same time.
Santos image is all over the teams media guide cover. The players wear No. 10 uniform patches and a statue will be built outside Wrigley Field. On Sunday, Moreland and Hughes will call their first game together as the new WGN radio team, in a booth where Santo was a fixture for 21 seasons.
Moreland, a Cub from 1982-87, is an accomplished broadcaster who has occasionally filled in for Santo and Bob Brenly on the television side. Combined he spent 25 seasons as a University of Texas analyst for baseball and football games.
Moreland will be more analytical, but still get words wrong. It will be interesting to listen to find out if he calls out the professionals.
There is no substitute for hustle, he said. Baseball is a game that you cannot control the outcome because you can hit the ball four times right on the button or you can make five really good pitches in a row and two of them could leave the ballpark.
But what you do have control of is the effort. And if theres a point (where) I can be critical, it will be about effort.
Moreland spent part of Saturday making introductions. He walked over to the cage to talk with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, and Hughes later showed him around the press box. Hughes has worked with Bob Uecker, Santo and now Moreland, who has a three-year contract.
Oh, heck, yeah, Im nervous, Moreland said, in the sense that I just hope people allow me to be me. Again, Santo's irreplaceable. Thats not my intention in any capacity and because of that, I have some apprehension. But, again, I get to turn to my right and look and see whos sitting beside me. Hughes is the best straight man in the world.
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.