02/26/2003 2:29 PM ET
Santo does not make Hall of Fame
Former Cubs third baseman had 'high hopes' for HOF
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.
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
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.
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.
This time, it was his peers voting. And again, he was left out.
| Gil Hodges||50||61.7%|
| Tony Oliva||48||59.3%|
| Ron Santo||46||56.8%|
| Joe Torre||29||35.8%|
| Maury Wills||24||29.6%|
| Vada Pinson||21||25.9%|
| Joe Gordon||19||23.5%|
| Roger Maris||18||22.2%|
| Marty Marion||17||21.0%|
| Carl Mays||16||19.8%|
| Minnie Minoso||16||19.8%|
| Allie Reynolds||16||19.8%|
| Dick Allen||13||16.0%|
| Mickey Lolich||13||16.0%|
| Wes Ferrell||12||14.8%|
| Ken Boyer||11||13.6%|
| Don Newcombe||11||13.6%|
| Curt Flood||10||12.3%|
| Ken R. Williams||8||9.9%|
| Rocky Colavito||7||8.6%|
| Elston Howard||6||7.4%|
| Bob Meusel||6||7.4%|
| Bobby Bonds||5||6.2%|
| Ted Kluszewski||4||4.9%|
| Thurman Munson||4||4.9%|
| Mike G. Marshall||3||3.7%|
| Doug Harvey||48||60.8|
| Walter O'Malley||38||48.1|
| Marvin Miller||35||44.3|
| Buzzie Bavasi||34||43.0|
| Dick Williams||33||41.8|
| Whitey Herzog||25||31.6|
| Billy Martin||22||27.8|
| Bill White||22||27.8|
| Bowie Kuhn||20||25.3|
| Gabe Paul||13||16.5|
| August Busch||11||13.9|
| Paul Richards||10||12.7|
| Charley Finley||9||11.4|
| Phil Wrigley||9||11.4|
| Harry Dalton||6||7.6|
"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 MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.