This is a tough one, maybe the most difficult blog post of the year so far. There are so many people that come to mind when I read this question. Should I go the sports route and pick Michael Jordan, Mike Ditka, Patrick Kane, or Derrick Rose. Maybe I’d rather meet a musician like Elvis or John Lennon. Would I really be capable of turning down dinner with “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George RR Martin. I then thought, would I be making the worst decision of my life if I decided against going to dinner with Emma Watson? Even though I imagine that dinner with Emma be the start of a long and happy relationship, there’s still somebody I’d rather have dinner with. His name is Ron Santo.
Unless you are a baseball, and more specifically a Cubs fan, many of you probably haven’t heard of Ron Santo. Ron played third base for the Chicago Cubs from 1960 – 1973. He was a nine time All-Star and five time Gold Glove winner. While playing, Ron was one of the most beloved Cubs on a team stacked with Hall of Famers. After Ron’s playing career he joined the Cubs broadcast booth in 1990 and would go on to be the Cubs color commentator from 1990 until his death in 2010. In 2012 Santo was posthumously elected into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. There was a documentary about his life called “This Old Cub”
To make things clear, I love sports. I watch them everyday, read articles about them everyday, and talk with my friends about them everyday. Now a days you’ll hear me talking about the Blackhawks competing for a championship, Derrick Rose coming back (again) for the Bulls, and how disappointing the Bears have been. However, the first team that I ever really loved was the Cubs. I lived one block from Wrigley Field (the Cubs’ stadium) when I was a baby. I went to my first game when I was two weeks old, and have been a fan ever since. One of the main reasons why I loved the Cubs so much was Ron Santo. There was nothing like driving around or playing outside during the summer with the Cubs on the radio, and the best part about it was Ron. For the most part, sports announcers need to be unbiased while announcing the game, but Ron never was. You would hear him loudly groan when the Cubs messed up, or yell out complaints if the Cubs had a bad call against them, no matter how minuscule the call. He wore his emotions on his sleeve, and “bled Cubbie blue.” His passion for baseball and for the Cubs was matched by none, and rubbed off on everybody else. Ron was one of the most positive people I ever, “knew.” At the age of 18 Ron was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes during a time when very little was known about the disease. He was given a life expectancy of only 25 years. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Ron went on the have a Hall of Fame career and started a foundation to combat the disease. It was his optimism and never give up attitude that made all Cub fans love him, despite how horrible the Cubs were and the fact that he had both of his legs amputated due to diabetes. Ron always believed that, “this is the year,” that the Cubs would finally win the World Series, no matter what the talent on the team looked like.
In terms of the actual dinner, I would love to hear stories about his playing days. He played on one of the most famous Cub teams of all time, with some of the franchise’s greatest players. I want to know what the clubhouse was like; who his favorite teammates were, what secrets does he know that the public doesn’t, and what it was like playing 162 games a year with diabetes. I’d also want to hear stories from his broadcasting days. They’d be similar questions like who his favorite guests were, what were some of his most memorable experiences, and what his favorite moments were. In terms of what I would teach him, I would without a doubt first tell him that he finally made the Hall of Fame, an accomplishment Ron had waited over 30 years for, and unfortunately something he never lived to see. The look on his face after hearing the news would be priceless. I know that the first question he’d ask me is how the Cubs are doing. I’d be honest, they’re not great. However, they’ve got some nice young prospects and some solid veterans, so it wouldn’t be unfathomable to think, “this is the year.”