Barry Larkin, Ron Santo inducted into Hall of Fame | Baseball Notebook
Barry Larkin, former star shortstop for the Reds, and Ron Santo, a Seattle native and standout third baseman for the Cubs, joined the Baseball Hall of Fame.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Barry Larkin lost it before he even started. Vicki Santo never wavered as she honored her late husband, Ron.
Larkin, the former star shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, and Ron Santo, a standout third baseman for the Chicago Cubs and later a beloved broadcaster for the team, were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
After wiping away tears as his teenage daughter sang the national anthem, Larkin quickly thanked his mom, Shirley, and father, Robert, who were seated in the first row.
"Growing up, you challenged me. That was so instrumental," Larkin said.
Larkin heaped special praise on former player-manager Pete Rose, a fellow Cincinnati native who is ineligible for the Hall of Fame.
"I wouldn't be in the big leagues if it weren't for Pete," Larkin said, to rousing applause from fans.
Larkin, who played his entire 19-year career with the Reds, retired after the 2004 season with a .295 career average, 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs scored and 379 stolen bases.
Seattle native Ron Santo didn't live to experience the day he always dreamed of. Plagued by health problems, he died Dec. 3, 2010, at age 70. His long battle with diabetes cost him both legs below the knees, but he ultimately died of complications from bladder cancer.
A member of the Chicago Cubs organization for the better part of five decades as a player (1960-74) and then beloved broadcaster (1990-2010), Santo was selected by the Veterans Committee in December, exactly one year after his death.
Vicki Santo said she cried a lot while practicing her speech, but her poise was remarkable.
"It just feels right, a perfect ending to a remarkable journey," she said. "This is not a sad day. This is a great day. I'm certain that Ronnie is celebrating right now."
So, too were his beloved Cubs. They paid a tribute of their own to Santo, clicking their heels as they jumped over the third-base line to start the bottom of the first inning at St. Louis.
In 15 major league seasons, all but one with the Cubs, Santo was one of the top third basemen in major league history. He compiled a .277 batting average, had 2,254 hits, 1,331 RBI and 365 doubles in 2,243 games. He also was a tireless fundraiser for juvenile diabetes, raising more than $65 million.
Santo fought serious medical problems after he retired as a player. He underwent surgery on his eyes, heart and bladder after doctors discovered cancer. He also had surgery more than a dozen times on his legs before they were amputated below the knees — the right one in 2001 and the left a year later.
As a broadcaster, Santo was known for unabashedly rooting for the Cubs, a trait that endeared him to fans who never saw him play.
"I want you to know that he loved you so much, and he would be grateful that you came here to share this with him," Vicki Santo said to the fans. "He fought the good fight, and though he's no longer here we need to find a cure (for juvenile diabetes). He felt he had been put here for that reason. He believed in his journey. He believed in his cause. We can't let him down."
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