Santo seeks long-awaited Hall berth

Santo seeks long-awaited Hall berth

Ron Santo has tried to stay low-key about the Hall of Fame, but he's not a low-key kind of guy.

The former Cubs third baseman is up for election again. Santo will be considered for the Class of 2009 at the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

Any player receiving at least 75 percent of the vote from the Veterans Committee, which consists of the 64 living Hall of Famers, will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame. Results from the Veterans Committee vote will be revealed at noon CT on MLB.com on Monday from baseball's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

The other members of the post-1943 Veterans Committee final ballot are Dick Allen, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Al Oliver, Vada Pinson, Luis Tiant, Joe Torre and Maury Wills.

In February 2007, Santo received 57 votes, or 69.5 percent, and was denied access to Cooperstown. He needed 62 votes, or 75 percent, to get in.

"There's no doubt in my mind -- I'll be honest, I want this badly," he said in February 2007. "Mainly because it's every two years. Two years, because of what I have with the diabetes and being older, is like an eternity. If I do get in, I'd like to enjoy it."

Santo was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 18, but didn't reveal that he had Type 1 diabetes until the Cubs celebrated "Ron Santo Day" on Aug. 28, 1971. He played for the team from 1960-73, spent one season with the crosstown White Sox, and then retired. A career .277 hitter, he won five Gold Gloves, and was a nine-time All-Star. In the last few years, he has had both legs amputated below the knees because of complications with the disease. That hasn't stopped him. The 2009 season will be Santo's 20th in the broadcast booth with WGN Radio. He turns 69 in February.

"Santo was a dominant player at his position for a long, long time," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "An All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and a great ambassador in baseball."

Billy Williams, who was Santo's teammate on the Cubs, and who was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1987, likes the Veterans Committee system.

"Many years ago, the players used to vote for who was elected to the All-Star Game and you really felt good about it because your peers voted you in," Williams said. "It's always good to know that they voted you in.

"This is what we have now -- there are players who played with Gil Hodges or against him, and the majority of these people [on the Committee] were Santo's peers and played against him," Williams said. "There are guys like Ernie [Banks] and Fergie [Jenkins] and myself, and we saw him play and saw the type of player he was, and that's how we cast our votes. We thought he was a Hall of Fame player."

Santo holds the National League record for third basemen for most consecutive games played (364, April 4, 1964-May 31, 1966), most games played in a season (164 games, 1965) and most seasons leading the league in total chances accepted (nine).

He joined the Cubs on June 24, 1960, and made his Major League debut two days later. It was a good start, as Santo went 3-for-7 and drove in five runs. Funny thing is, he has already been to Cooperstown. On June 27, 1960, the Cubs played the Indians in the annual Hall of Fame game, and Santo homered off Jack Harshman in the Cubs' 5-0 win.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.