- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Ron Santo’s wife, Vicki, made an eloquent speech in accepting the iconic Chicago Cubs third baseman’s plaque as he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon.
Vicki never mentioned the heartbreaking experience of the numerous Hall rejections that Santo had to deal with while he was still alive.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” she said. “He would have been thrilled to be here and it doesn’t matter how long it took to get here because this was a dream of his.”
She also alluded that the timing of the election was meant to be.
“I think things happen for a reason and his speech would have been about his career, the way it should have been,” she said. “I couldn’t talk about that but I think there was a message in his journey and that’s what I tried to get across to the fans who he loved more than anything. I feel this was for them, the closure that they were all right behind him wishing he could get in and it happened.”
Santo spent a good portion of her speech talking about her husband’s fight with diabetes and the $65 million he had raised for JDRF, a special charity that he had spent years in working with trying to find a cure. Santo played his entire major league career as an insulin-dependent diabetic.
“The whole last decade of Ron’s life was very emotional,” Vicki said. “I loved him, he was my husband and I wanted the best [care] for him. Baseball was his love and it also kept him alive the last 10 years of his life. It is emotional that he was not here but from the situation of his life he was ready [to pass].”
It was estimated that 3,000 Cubs fans made their way to the induction ceremony, which included a five-minute film tribute to Santo covering his career as a player and broadcaster. Long-time friend and Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench put on a Cubs jersey and did a Harry Caray impression while paying tribute to Santo in between acceptance speeches.