- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The iconic Chicago Cubs Hall Of Fame players who made their way to upstate New York for Ron Santo’s induction seem relieved that the nine-time All-Star has finally received credit for his extraordinary career.
“Ronnie was deserving of this a long time ago,” his former teammate Fergie Jenkins said. “The writers missed the essence of his great play because of little national attention.”
Jenkins of course refers to the era in which he and Santo played when people only saw teams from other cities on the game of the week. Santo’s Cubs never made the playoffs and that in itself limited exposure to his great ability.
“You know I would have liked to see him enjoy it because he would have been the happiest man on earth during that time he would have been up there,” Ryne Sandberg said. “To have witnessed that… I know we are all missing out on something special, but to have his family do it is the next best thing.”
Billy Williams was the most aggressive champion of Santo’s Hall of Fame credentials over the past 15 years.
“This is great because we were not only teammates we were great friends,” Williams said. “We came through minor league baseball together and he hit third and I hit fourth. We had Rogers Hornsby [HOF second baseman] as our hitting coach and he told us we would both be outstanding major league hitters. It is great to have him with me, Fergie and Ernie [Banks] as teammates in this great place, all together again.”
Santo said when his number was retired by the Cubs five years ago that was his Hall of Fame.
“He didn’t mean that,” Williams said. “I know he wanted to be here with his teammates. In his heart he did not mean it, so now he can take his rightful place with the rest of us.”
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