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Vicki Santo: ‘We dared to dream’

Longtime broadcast-booth partner PHughes says he “keeps seeing (RSanto's) face my mind.” | Sun-Times Medifile photo

Longtime broadcast-booth partner Pat Hughes says he “keeps seeing (Ron Santo's) face in my mind.” | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: January 7, 2012 8:15AM

Ron Santo considered his retired No. 10 Cubs jersey flying over Wrigley Field in 2003 as his “hall of fame,” failing three times to win induction into Cooperstown as a veteran player.

That it finally happened Monday, a year and two days after his death, made it bittersweet but no less thrilling for his family, friends and fans.

“We dared to dream this because it was so important to Ron and such a long time in coming,” his widow, Vicki, said. “But we’re all thrilled. When I got the call from the Hall and then Billy [Williams] got on the phone and said, ‘Vick, we finally got it done,’ it made me cry.”

Hall of Famer Williams, one of Santo’s longtime teammates and friends, was among the 16-member Golden Era Committee that elected Santo.

“What a glorious day for us,” Santo teammate Randy Hundley said. “It gives us a chance to share him with the world once again when he’s inducted this summer.”

The ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., will come July 22.

“I keep seeing his face in my mind,” longtime broadcast partner Pat Hughes said. “I can’t imagine that any other inductee would have been as thrilled on that podium as he would have been. I had the chills when I heard. It’s the same feeling he and I had when Kerry Wood had his 20 strikeout game. Late in the game, Ronnie looked at me and said, ‘I have goose bumps.’ I had that same moment.”

Santo was known to many for his 20-year broadcast career as the Cubs’ analyst and also for the millions of dollars he raised to fund research into juvenile diabetes, the disease he had since he was 18 years old.

Vicki Santo will deliver the ­induction speech.

“We feel he was meant to be in the Hall,” Vicki said. “It will be about ‘never give up.’ Even with this coming after his passing, it’s about never give up. That’s what Ron was all about. This will continue the legacy of the heart he played with and all the good he did.”

His son Jeff, who produced a documentary on Santo’s life and how he persevered after losing his legs in a lifelong battle with diabetes, said the vote was “a good final chapter, but I think the happy ending already was there [with] his statue [unveiled last season outside Wrigley Field]. This is icing on the cake.”

His son Ron Jr. said, “I know how much he would be enjoying this and how proud he’d be. He achieved it on the field. We’re proud that now generations to come can go to Coop-
erstown and see his plaque.

“But I’ve always thought it was important, too, what he did off the field — for Cubs fans, for [Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation], for the community. He took pride in that, too.’’

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