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Ron Santo statue at Wrigley a touching tribute

RSanto's grandsSpencer Brown takes s close up look statue RSanthwas unveiled pre-game ceremony corner AddsiSheffield. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Ron Santo's grandson Spencer Brown takes s a close up look at the statue of Ron Santo that was unveiled in a pre-game ceremony at the corner of Addsion and Sheffield. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 3, 2011 12:38PM



Whether Ron Santo found a way to attend the unveiling
ceremony Wednesday for his statue outside of Wrigley Field, he knew about it.

About 10 months before his death in December, the Cubs called to let him know about former teammate Billy Williams’ statue planned for last summer — with Santo’s to follow in 2011, his wife, Vicki, said during the ceremony.

‘‘So he did know,’’ she said. ‘‘And he was so excited: ‘Vicki, do you realize what a big deal that is? I can’t believe they would do that for me.’ ’’

They did it on a perfect summer afternoon, in as well-attended and as touching a ceremony as any in recent memory. His statue bore a startling likeness and was set just a few feet away from that of longtime teammate and friend Williams at Sheffield and Addison.

‘‘I know he’s here; I know he is,’’ Williams told the throng of thousands at the event, including seven former teammates, many current Cubs, most of the team’s ownership and front office and a guy in the crowd who wore a shirt that read, ‘‘Put Santo in the Hall.’’

Said Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, whose statue is near Clark and Addison: ‘‘He is my Hall of Fame. He belongs in the Hall of Fame.’’

Santo’s Hall qualifications were remembered several times, but the day belonged to the man who inspired teammates and fans with his passion, playing style, toughness and joy — and his tireless efforts to find a cure for juvenile diabetes.

‘‘He was a great father, a great man, a great inspiration,’’ said his son, Jeff Santo, ‘‘and we thank the Chicago Cubs and the Ricketts family for giving him a home forever and for giving all of us — everyone — a place to have and come visit. Thank you for loving him so much.’’

Pass on Pat?

Don’t count on anything happening between the Cubs and Pat Gillick — or any other baseball guy who might seem suited for a president-level job — any time soon.

According to a source, the Cubs haven’t wavered from chairman Tom Ricketts’ comments about not hiring ‘‘a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy.’’

Gillick, 73, who recently was inducted into the Hall of Fame, repeatedly has said he would consider leaving his advisory position with the Philadelphia Phillies only for a president-level job and has no desire to be a general manager again.

Several members of the Ricketts family’s ownership group attended the Santo statue dedication but would not address anticipated front-office personnel
evaluations and decisions.

But according to the source close to the upper brass, the Rickettses believe in their front-office structure of having a business-minded exec as president with a GM as the baseball operations chief, free to do his job and accountable for the results.

Notes

Aramis Ramirez
returned to the lineup after missing the game Tuesday because of back spasms.

Starlin Castro
extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the first — just before getting thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.



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