Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Too Little, Too Late

Nine All-Star Games. Five Gold Gloves. Consistent excellence at his position. Nearly two decades as a color commentator. Immeasurable effort to raise money for and awareness of juvenile diabetes. And one hell of a nice guy.

Those are just a few things that made Chicago Cubs 3B and life-long blueblood Ron Santo the kind of person he was widely known to be. And it wasn't enough. Not for the Hall. Until, somehow, this year.

The HOF Veterans Committee, in their infinite wisdom, finally decided to allow Santo to join the ranks of the legends who came before him in Cooperstown. Good call, fellas. Only took you a few years. Give or take. And all he had to do to solidify his enshrinement is die. Strong work, committee members. Strong.

As a lifelong Cubs fan, I suppose the first feeling I should have had is happiness; happiness for a man who had such a good career in uniform, who gave so much of himself after he left the field to his team and organization, who devoted more than 30 years of his life to helping to raise money and awareness to cure a disease which has affected millions of people (and which ultimately crippled him). But somehow, I can't feel happy about this. I can't bring myself to feel good about a decision that should have been made while the man was still alive.
I started this entry four days ago! I'd like to be able to find the words to express how much of a sham this all seems to be, but I still can't fully express my disappointment.

Case in point: Buck O'Neil. Here's a man who devotes virtually his whole life to the game he loves; as a player, a scout, the first African-American coach in Major League Baseball, and going on to become a sort-of unofficial ambassador for all of American professional baseball. He was awarded the Presidental Medal of Freedom posthumously and even has a statue in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. The man has an award named after him, for crying out loud! It's an award given by no less than representatives of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame! He had quite a life, quite a compelling legacy in baseball, and yet for all he was blessed with a Hall of Fame election wasn't one of them. I still believe it will happen, somehow, someday, but it should have happened while he was alive. The same can most definitely be said of Santo.

So the question is this, plain and simple: why didn't it happen sooner? Why now, now that his family is deprived of his presence and the man himself has been deprived of the joy of earning the highest honor pro baseball has to offer, is Ron Santo finally being enshrined?

I don't have the answer, and I barely have the means or ability to express my sadness at this most recent black eye suffered needlessly by Major League Baseball. Because it may be a great honor for the Santo family, but it's an insult to me. 
Post a Comment