Unveiling Santo: The fans’ statue

That’s not a bad idea for a blog. Thing is, I don’t cook.

Cooking is not a passion of mine. Baseball is. And no, I don’t believe Amy Adams should play me in the film adaptation of Prose and Ivy, should there be one. Not that she couldn’t pull it off. I just don’t see it. Have fun suggesting people that should be cast to do so if the time comes in the comments. (why not)

While odd to feature ‘Julie and Julia’ in a post about Santo, still, I like the way Julia Childs not only inspired Adams’ character to do something creative, but also made her feel like everything is going to be alright. She helped steer her further into enjoying and delving into her passion while still making her feel like she wasn’t alone in it all. She was someone she could relate to because they shared the same passion.

I post it because in a way, I believe Ron Santo did the same thing for Cubs fans. In this case, pass10n.

I would suspect that Santo didn’t have a killer bouef bourguignon recipe to share with foodies. He more than likely owned the Cubs cookbook that has been on-sale for charity. However, his gift to Cubs fans wasn’t something you could cook up on a stove or in an oven. Granted, Wrigley Field can hit over 100 degrees on the heat index in the middle of July or August, still, Santo’s gift was his everyman-ness. The fact that Santo seemed to be one of us.

I would also suspect that there are many Cubs fans around ‘Julie’s age who look back on a ballgame that their mother or father took them to. When they share the story with others, perhaps in their best Meg Ryan impression as Adams does here, they get to the part about how they looked upon beautiful Wrigley Field down against the wall along the third base line and it was then that their parent pointed out their all-time favorite ballplayer. However, it wasn’t just any ballplayer. It was Ron Santo. One of the greatest players to wear a Cubs uniform. A man that was loved on and off the field for nearly five decades. It wasn’t just some ballplayer their parent wanted them to see. No. This was RON SANTO.

He cared and wasn’t afraid to share his feelings. He loved the Cubs as the Cubs loved him back. He displayed a passion for the game and the team as a player and then later as a broadcaster. His cheers and groans in the booth came across as a ventriloquist’s act. We as the fans were the ventriloquist and while Santo may have been saying what we wanted to say, if we did say it, it wouldn’t be the same. Often, the sports fans’ voice isn’t heard as if the lips are not moving. Santo gave Cubs fans a voice in the booth and it was a continuation of a special relationship between the two, Santo and the fans.

Watching Santo react after a Cubs win seemed as if a fan had won a contest to suit up for the day and play third base. Certainly many Cubs showed pride and enthusiasm after a Cubs victory throughout the years, but not in an as memorable fashion as Santo. His heel-click, signature celebration displayed the same type of excitement and eutopia-like bliss a fan feels after riding the roller coaster that nine innings of a baseball game can deliver. Any time Santo performed his trademark heel-click, it was if a fan had run onto the field to celebrate with the players and instead of being tackled and arrested, the security guards gave him a uniform and a high-five.

The fan in Santo is what separated him from the rest of the Cubs. Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub, no doubt about it. Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Billy Williams, Greg Maddux and Fergie Jenkins among others have all found a place in Cubs’ lore and Cubs fans’ hearts. However, arguably, no Cub was more relatable than Santo. Cub fans loved the Cubs. Santo loved the Cubs. Cubs fans loved Santo and the feeling was mutual. He loved the city. He loved playing at Wrigley Field and more than anything he wanted to bring a championship to Chicago and its fans.

The Santo statue is going to be unveiled today at 5:30pm CT. I can’t imagine that they molded it to take any pose other than the heel-clicking Santo celebration. It is the proper thing to do. It is the only thing to do. To build a Santo statue…as soon as that was agreed upon…I’m guessing the next lines of that meeting went something like: “Great. So, the heel-click, yes?” “Yes.” “Done.”

The statue is going to be unveiled next to the Billy Williams statue, over by the Captain Morgan Club. A perfect location if you ask me. Right over by an area known for fans coming together to celebrate or commisorate over their Cubs. Right by the corner where fans often parade off the L on their way to Wrigley. Right by Williams, another Cubs great. Putting Santo among the greats yet also amongst the fans is the perfect placement.

I look forward to hearing what is written on the statue base. It will be a bittersweet moment for the Santo family, I’m sure, as Ronnie won’t be around to enjoy it with them. The great part about the Santo statue though is that in a way, from now on, he will always will be there, on our side, like one great big good fairy, to quote our surprise casting in Adams, here. A permanent fixture outside of Wrigley, putting the heel-clicking exclamation mark on a Cubs’ win and serving as a reminder that Cubs fans aren’t alone in this after a loss. Great times have existed and while they may be few and far between, the team will continue to reach for that ultimate gift back to the fans. A championship.

It may not happen this year or next or the year after that. However, it will be a great reminder that it hasn’t been for a lack of trying or caring. The players may display some sloppiness and laziness here and there throughout the season and we may receive some bums here and there who truly don’t care. However, Santo is one that did. He cared very much and the feeling from the fans was mutual. It may take some time (even if it’s more than we’d like), but we’re all in this together and everything is going to be okay.

What Santo means to this organization is something that deserves a statue outside of Wrigley, especially seeing how much the organization meant to Santo.

Banks, Williams, Harry and now Santo. And in a way, it will honor the passion and love for the team that the fans hold as well.

Congratulations, Ron. You deserve this honor and I look forward to seeing it soon. Go Cubs Go!

UPDATED: 8/10/11 7:15pm CT: The statue has been unveiled and it really is impressive. Not the heel-clicking pose I expected, but still. A beaut’. Congratulations to Ron and the entire Santo family. Nice job, Cubs. Well done.

photo credit: @CubsInsider