December 3, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — Former Cubs third baseman and WGN radio announcer Ron Santo died Thursday at the age of 70 after family and friends say he lapsed into a coma in Arizona.
Loved ones say Santo spent several days in a coma before his passing.
Over the years, Santo had both legs amputated, fought a lifelong battle with diabetes, and also was reportedly fighting bladder cancer.
Despite all of his health problems, however, Santo continued to work as a Cubs radio analyst and was expected to return for next year's season. He said the work was like therapy.
Santo never got to witness his longtime goal of getting into baseball's Hall of Fame, despite a career that made him one of the greatest third baseman of all time.
Santo was loved by many Cubs' fans and was one of the biggest Cubs' fans himself. He made no secret about that and never held back when the Cubs made mistakes.
Over the summer, Santo spoke to the media about his long career in baseball.
“My flag being retired without being in the Hall of Fame was the biggest thing. To me, it is the Hall of Fame. This is my life for 50 years. To think about it, what I went through with the diabetes and all the operations and every time I walk into Wrigley Field, I don't have a problem in the world other than moaning and groaning a couple of times because the Cubs aren't doing well. But the fans, the organization, you, kept me alive. I believe that very strongly,” he said.
Fans are expected to gather at Chicago's Wrigley Field Friday to remember Ron Santo.
Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts released the following statement:
My siblings and I first knew Ron Santo as fans, listening to him in the broadcast booth. We knew him for his passion, his loyalty, his great personal courage and his tremendous sense of humor. It was our great honor to get to know him personally in our first year as owners.
Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans. Our thoughts and prayers today are with his wife Vicky and their family and we share with fans across the globe in mourning the loss of our team's number one fan and one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game.
As a nine-time All-Star, a five-time Golden Glove winner, Ronnie was one of the best Cubs ever and a Hall of Famer in our book.
Since he retired he was a powerful spokesperson for Juvenile Diabetes Research. For the last 21 years, his love for baseball and passion for the Cubs was felt in every one of his broadcasts.
In the days and seasons ahead, we will honor Ron and celebrate all he has meant to our team and our fans. Ron's number 10 will always be close to our hearts and Ron will forever be a member of the Cubs family.