Saturday, December 11, 2010
Ron Santo took his final victory lap around Wrigley Field yesterday. This time he was in a Hearse which was bedecked with flags representing his #10 pinstriped Chicago Cubs uniform. Thousands lined the streets along Clark and Sheffield, snapping digital photos and silently paying their respects to this Chicago baseball legend.
Having finally succumbed to a diabetes-induced frailty, the old Cubs 3rd baseman passed away on December 2nd.
A nine time All Star and five time Golden Glove 3rd baseman he ranked sixth in National League history in putouts (1,930.)
A fair percentage of those were certainly the 3rd baseman's trademark leap into the air to snag a hot line drive pulled down the 3rd base line.
Anyone who has ever played the "hot corner" knows that it is one of the most difficult feats in all of baseball. The fielder has to set keenly eyeing the batter with knees slightly bent, ready to leap up and snare a ball driven at perhaps 50mph, with only seconds notice.
It requires impeccable timing. Ron Santo, in his prime, certainly had it.
And he displayed that same impeccable timing by deciding to check out a mere 29 days before the inheritance rate would soar from 0% to 35%, at Obama's urging under the compromise tax bill to which Republicans are strangely acquiescing.
That means Ron Santo's family will get to keep the fruits of his many years of labor.
Santo missed the era of mega-bucks baseball salaries by a few years. But toward the end, he did okay salary-wise. He always showed an entrepreneurial streak as well. In the mid 60s, he cut a deal with P.K. Wrigley that gave him the franchise on the sale at Wrigley of "Ron Santo pizzas. They were little 6 inch pies which came in a box with Ronnie's picture and facsimile autograph and were hawked by vendors in the stands, just like hot dogs and peanuts.
After his retirement, he opened a string of family friendly restaurants in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. He also pulled down a pretty good salary from WGN as a radio broadcaster from 1990 to the end of last season.
So he had a nice little estate to hand down to his wife and kids.
And just with his almost intuitive ability to hone in and snare a sharp line drive, his timing was impeccable on this as well.
Ronnie Santo beat the taxman.