Growing up in the Chicago area, Cubs baseball is more than just a game. It is a lifestyle.
There is a dedication behind being a Cubs fan that very few teams possess; not only in baseball but in all of sports.
Ron Santo and Pat Hughes were the voice of Chicago Cubs radio. In my household, as well as many others in Chicago, if you were watching the Cubs game on TV at home, you would mute it and turn to WGN 720 to hear Ron and Pat call the game. While many believe watching games on TV can show you everything you need to know, they have clearly never listened to Ronnie.
Television broadcasters are blessed with the ability to point out what is happening via television. They point out this and that, and at times, don’t need to say anything at all because the cameras capture it for us.
With Ron Santo, we were blessed to have the opportunity to listen to him.
Alongside Pat’s play-by-play, Santo would go so much further than just calling a game. He would have guests, interview the singer of the seventh inning stretch and give insight that was much deeper than any TV broadcaster covering the MLB.
When the Cubs would make an error or give up a homer, you would hear his displeasure. When the Cubs won or turned a double play, you would hear his happiness.
And that was part of the reason we all fell in love with Ronnie. When you would listen to him, you could feel the love he had for the game of baseball. That love would wear off on you, and it wore off onto generations of Cubs fans including myself.
On road trips to see family in Wisconsin or on the way back from school, Ron and Pat would grace our car speakers. Even when I moved to Seattle after seventh grade, I would make sure to find a way to hear Chicago Cubs radio. Instead of buying MLBTV, I decided on MLB Radio so I would never miss a moment.
My love for sports radio developed because of Ron, which has also led to my love for sports journalism. It is safe to say without Ron Santo, I would not be doing what I am today.
When I heard the news this morning of Ron’s passing, it definitely struck a chord. For everyone around the Chicagoland area along with any Cubs fan, we have all lost a beloved legend of baseball and sports radio.
For those who listened to him, he quickly connected you to the Cubs and to himself. After hearing thousands of his broadcasts, it almost feels as if I have lost a lifelong friend.
Whenever tuning into a Cubs game, you would never hear the phrase, “Let's turn on the Cubs.” Instead you would hear, “Let's turn on Pat and Ron.”
When I first talked to my dad about the news, who was fortunate enough to watch Santo play, his first reaction was about how much fun he was to watch.
While talking to my Grandpa he stated it the best, “He’s a staple…he was quite a guy.”
For myself and all of the Cubs fans across America, thank you Ron for all the amazing years of Cubs baseball and Cubs radio.
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