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Santo does not make Hall of Fame
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02/26/2003  2:29 PM ET 
Santo does not make Hall of Fame
Former Cubs third baseman had 'high hopes' for HOF
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Ron Santo will help instruct current Cubs third baseman Mark Bellhorn during Spring Training. (AP)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When his phone rang at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Ron Santo thought it was the call he'd been waiting for since 1980. Instead, it was a message he wasn't quite prepared for.

Santo was left out again in what seems like his endless bid to gain entry into the Hall of Fame. The former Chicago Cubs third baseman received 46 votes, or 56.8 percent, from the revamped Veterans Committee. He needed 75 percent of the 81 ballots cast.

"I'm very disappointed," Santo said Wednesday. "Everything that's been happening has made me feel I was getting in for the first time. It's going to be a tough day today. (Thursday) is the first exhibition game and I'll be thinking about the Cubs and once I get to the ballpark I'll be fine. Right now, it's very disappointing."

Santo wasn't the only one, though. The revised voting block, now comprised of the 85 living Hall of Famers, which includes 58 players, 25 journalists and broadcasters, and two from the old Veterans Committee, did not vote anyone into Cooperstown.

Hall of Fame 2003

Induction Ceremony
Sunday, July 27
Cooperstown, New York

The inductees
Gary Carter | Eddie Murray

Schedule of weekend events
Complete coverage

Gil Hodges received the most with 50 votes for 61.7 percent and Tony Oliva received 48 for 59.3 percent.

"Evidently, there's a different criteria," Santo said. "Even with the different format, there's a different criteria."

Santo had been critical of the Baseball Writers Association of America for not voting him into Cooperstown. In his first year of eligibility in 1980, he received 3.9 percent of the vote. He was off the ballot for five years and then reinstated. But the highest total he ever received from the BBWAA was 43.1 percent in 1998.

Players ballot
 Gil Hodges5061.7%
 Tony Oliva4859.3%
 Ron Santo4656.8%
 Joe Torre2935.8%
 Maury Wills2429.6%
 Vada Pinson2125.9%
 Joe Gordon1923.5%
 Roger Maris1822.2%
 Marty Marion1721.0%
 Carl Mays1619.8%
 Minnie Minoso1619.8%
 Allie Reynolds1619.8%
 Dick Allen1316.0%
 Mickey Lolich1316.0%
 Wes Ferrell1214.8%
 Ken Boyer1113.6%
 Don Newcombe1113.6%
 Curt Flood1012.3%
 Ken R. Williams89.9%
 Rocky Colavito78.6%
 Elston Howard67.4%
 Bob Meusel67.4%
 Bobby Bonds56.2%
 Ted Kluszewski44.9%
 Thurman Munson44.9%
 Mike G. Marshall33.7%
Composite ballot
 Doug Harvey4860.8
 Walter O'Malley3848.1
 Marvin Miller3544.3
 Buzzie Bavasi3443.0
 Dick Williams3341.8
 Whitey Herzog2531.6
 Billy Martin2227.8
 Bill White2227.8
 Bowie Kuhn2025.3
 Gabe Paul1316.5
 August Busch1113.9
 Paul Richards1012.7
 Charley Finley911.4
 Phil Wrigley911.4
 Harry Dalton67.6
This time, it was his peers voting. And again, he was left out.

"I'm not stunned, just devastated. Devastated," Santo said, seated in his family room with family and friends nearby. "It hurt me. It really hurt me."

Santo was told he would receive a call between 10:30-11:30 a.m. Arizona time. He even rescheduled his birthday party from Wednesday to Tuesday in case he had to attend a news conference announcing his eligibility. Instead, Cubs media relations director Sharon Pannozzo called with the bad news.

"I feel I played the game the way it should be played and I feel I should be in there," Santo said. "Sure, that's my feelings. That's not everybody else's. There are a lot of people out there who are good baseball people who realize that. There's no control over it. You just never know."

Santo did receive a plaque from his grandson Sam, who turns 4 in April, which helped make up for the disappointment. It inducts Santo into the "Grandfather Hall of Fame" and is "in recognition of your dedicated service and commitment to excellence as a Grandpa. I love you, Sam." The plaque was dated Feb. 25, 2003, which was Santo's 63rd birthday.

Now a WGN Radio broadcaster, Santo celebrated his birthday and his resiliency with about 30 family and friends Tuesday night. He admitted to having a few glasses of champagne. They helped him sleep in anticipation of the big day.

Santo's birthday party didn't just mark another year. He's a survivor and incredibly optimistic for a man who has lost both legs. In December 2001, doctors were forced to amputate his right leg below the knee because of complications with diabetes. In December 2002, doctors had to take his left leg as well.

Now, he walks with the aid of a cane and his two prosthetic legs, both decorated to look like Cubs uniforms. He drives himself and even has gone horseback riding since the December surgery. Santo has to stay active. He has young Sam, who wants to play.

The Veterans Committee will vote again in two years. Santo said he'll keep his emotions in check next time. He does believe in the new format in which his peers will decide who gains entry.

"I believe strongly that they're the ones who knew what type of player I was," he said.

A nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, Santo batted .277 over 15 seasons, 1960-74, all but one with the Cubs, with 342 home runs and 1,331 RBIs. Does he need to be in Cooperstown to prove he was a good player?

"I don't," he said. "But still this was an opportunity. I know how good I was. You can never campaign. Everybody who is in the Hall of Fame deserves to be there, but there are a lot of people not in the Hall of Fame who deserve to be there. It seems like that is the most difficult of any sport to get into the Hall of Fame.

"This was what I strived for," he said. "You don't think about it the first year in the big leagues or your second or your third. But then when you see every day that you're in the top 10 in a lot of categories and you know you're good and then you hear the 'Hall of Fame.' "

Now, he has a full slate of games to broadcast with the Cubs, beginning Thursday at Scottsdale Stadium with the Cactus League opener.

"Starting right now," he said, "my thoughts are going to be on the Chicago Cubs and the season coming up and that's it."

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

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