Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs unveiled a monument to Ron Santo, their all-time third baseman. I'm not exactly an art critic, but I do fancy statues of baseball players, and this immediately becomes one of my favorites ...
This might not be the first ballpark statue to incorporate color, but I can't think of another. And this really makes a difference, as ballplayers in bronze always seem to lack something. Here, the blue and the hints of red add a level of dynamism that most baseball players just don't achieve, but should because of course baseball is a dynamic activity. Anything to lessen the inherent static-ness is highly welcome. In this Philistine's book, anyway.
The next step, of course, is to get Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame, where he so obviously belongs.
When Santo retired, his 342 home runs ranked second all-time among third basemen. He was a nine-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. According to FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement, Santo is the seventh-greatest third baseman in the history of the universe:
In 1980, Santo appeared on the BBWAA's Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. He got 15 votes, short of the necessary five percent, and disappeared from the ballot forever.
That's what was supposed to happen, anyway. That result was so obviously preposterous that Santo -- along with a few other, less worthy candidates -- was restored to the ballot five years later. Still, he never came close to being elected, topping out at 43 percent in 1998, his last shot.
Since then, Santo's come close to election a few times, via the various manifestations of the Veterans Committee. Somehow, everyone seems to have figured out that he should be in the Hall of Fame ... except for whoever's been voting on him, these last 30-some years.
If I'm reading the rules correctly, Santo's name comes up again this winter, under the auspices of yet another version of the Veterans Committee. There will be horse-trading and I'm afraid the process might devolve into a popularity contest. Santo's competition will be Joe Torre and Tony Oliva, but there's nothing in the rules that prohibits more than one of them from being elected. My guess is that Santo does make it.
Which will be nice for his family. It's just a shame that Santo couldn't have enjoyed the honor when he was alive. He should have had three full decades as a Hall of Famer, and all the pleasures that brings.