One week ago today, I woke up and immediately began to cry. Baseball legend Ron Santo was gone. In those first moments of understanding, I felt incredible loss.
My Tucson family was here, and my crying woke them. Try explaining to a four-year-0ld why you're crying over the death of someone you've never met! But some day, she will understand. Some day, it will make sense.
When I was a little girl, my mother's love of Ron Santo didn't make much sense to me. But looking back, it's really quite simple. There was a time when the greatest players in every game played for the sheer love of their game. There were no great salaries in professional sports, but you could see the joy on their faces as they played. Watching file footage of Santo, that's what you see: joy. I think Mom identified with that.
Mom remained a Cubs fan all her life, a trait she passed on to her children. My favorite players were Andre Dawson, Jody Davis and Kerry Wood, but there was always a special place in my heart for Ron. When I would watch the broadcasts on television, I would turn the volume down so I could listen to Pat Hughes and Santo's commentary of the game. Ron loved the game as much as my mom did, so listening to him was almost like having a bit of Mom still with us.
And so today, Ron Santo was given a final sendoff. The day included a prayer service at Holy Name Cathedral, followed by a procession past the Tribune Building and around Wrigley Field. Watching the celebration of his life, I'm reminded of his courage, having followed his career dream while dealing with diabetes. His sense of humor, as a man who could laugh at his own toupee catching fire. But mostly, his intense love of the game.
We'll miss you, old #10. Thank you for sharing your joy with my mom, and in turn, with me. Heel click, and out.