Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo has been elected to the Hall of Fame, gaining 15 of 16 votes from the Hall’s Golden Era Committee to gain induction after failing to get enough support on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot or from the previous versions of the Veterans Committee.
Santo, whose combination of power and defensive savvy made him one of the best all-around infielders of his generation, benefitted from the Hall’s decision to switch from a straight vote of the living Hall of Famers to a set of three committees covering different eras of the sport.
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“The numbers are there,’’ said committee member Billy Williams. “Everybody sees the the numbers. The home runs. The Gold Gloves. Everybody looked at it in a different view. This guy should be in the Hall of Fame.”
Orioles legend Brooks Robinson was also on the committee, and was present for the news conference on Monday at the Winter Meetings in Dallas.
“He was just a terrific guy – baseball through and through,’’ Robinson said. “He did a lot for baseball through his career. He was just a terrific player. If you compare him to the other players in the Hall of Fame, he deserves to be in.”
Robinson, who was unquestionably the greatest third baseman of that era, put Santo on the same pedestal and wondered why it took so long for him to be recognized by the baseball writers and the living Hall of Famers.
“Absolutely, I kept thinking he would get in again and again,” Robinson said, “and now he won’t be able to be there.”
Santo, who struggled with health problems that cost him both legs, passed away at the age of 70 from complications associated with bladder cancer on Dec. 2, 2010.
He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 22 at Cooperstown, N.Y. along with any players who receive 75 percent of the vote in the BBWAA election that is currently in progress.