Hundreds pack Holy Name for Ron Santo funeral

December 10, 2010 8:15:34 PM PST
Chicagoans said goodbye to legendary Cubs third baseman and WGN Radio announcer Ron Santo Friday at Holy Name Cathedral.

Santo's funeral and procession were streamed live on ABC7Chicago.com. You can watch the entire funeral here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Santo was a sure-handed Chicago Cub on the field and the team's biggest fan off of it.

Hundreds of people packed Holy Name Cathedral for Ron Santo's 10 a.m. funeral. Among them was Santo's long-time partner in the broadcast booth, Pat Hughes, who also was one of the speakers during the service.

"Ron Santo was not about melancholy. Ronnie was about having fun and laughing, living, and loving. And the two things he loved more than anything in his life were his family and the Chicago Cubs," Hughes said. "We had great respect and friendship. We got along amazingly well, and we enjoyed an unusual chemistry. We covered some pretty good Cubs games; we had four playoff ball clubs in 15 years. But for Ronnie and me, the broadcast was always about more than just baseball."

Hughes said he worked on his eulogy for approximately four to five days. He says he stressed about it, and then, he thought about Ron and how he would have told him to to just talk.

"Whatever memory you have, I just would like to ask you a favor -- and I know it would have pleased Ronnie very much-- however you remember him, please do so with a big smile on your face. He would have liked that very much. Finally, these past few days it has been as clear to me as it's ever been that these past 15 with Ron Santo, I've been part of something very special," said Hughes.

Santo, a former Cubs third baseman and long-time radio announcer, was remembered Thursday for his always-positive attitude and wonderful spirit as mourners shared memories, tributes and funny stories.

Santo fought a lifelong battle with diabetes but used his illness to raise millions of dollars to help children with the disease.

Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts talked about Santo's love of the game and his love for the Cubs during the service.

"Ron was truly an inspiration, and of course, Ron -- as we all know-- was just a great man. As it turns out, he also happened to be a baseball player. In fact, he was one of the greatest baseball players of all time," said Ricketts. "As you've seen over the last few days, words simply cannot describe how much he meant to so many people. On behalf of Cub fans everywhere, Ronnie, thank you, and we will miss you."

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig also spoke.

"Ron Santo was a great player. But he was an even better human being," said Selig.

For one last time with his teammates, Santo took the field.

"I'm really going to miss you Ronnie. I was saying that to myself, I'm really going to miss you," said Ernie Banks, Cubs Hall-of-Famer.

Limited public seating was available inside the church, but that didn't stop Cubs fans from stopping by Holy Name Cathedral to say one final good-bye to Santo.

Some said Ron Santo lived his life in extra innings. It seemed everyone wanted it to last forever.

Outside Holy Name, before the service began, Hughes said he missed his long-time radio partner.

"It's a mixture of both grief and joy. Obviously, we're sad because he's gone, and whenever somebody that close to you is gone, part of you leaves also. But Ronnie was not about melancholy. Ronnie was about having fun and laughing, having a good time, loving people. So it's a mixture of grief and sadness," he said.

Ron Santo's wife, Vicky, and their sons were surrounded by members of the baseball community Thursday, including former Cub great Ryne Sandburg, recently named Cubs Manager Mike Quade, current Cubs pitcher Sean Marshall.

Political dignitaries attended the ceremony, as well.

Santo's former teammate, Billy Williams, said there would never be another like number 10.

"It was just an enjoyable thing to know him. It's going to be a great loss to Chicago, to baseball fans," Williams said. "He'd been around here a long time and a lot of people got a chance to know him and really enjoyed his work. He certainly is going to be missed by many, many people here in Chicago and the baseball world."

Fans lined up early Friday to get the limited seats available for the service. Heartbroken and cold, they told ABC7 Chicago they just wanted to share their stories with each other and bid farewell to a man who gave them so much joy.

"He was great. He would stop for everybody, autographs, pictures, just as excited as the kids getting his autograph. We would walk him down to the elevator, and people in wheelchairs were still waiting, and everybody's face would light up when they saw Ron," said fan and Wrigley Field employee Debbie Buckwhite.

"It's going to be hard to go to Wrigley and not see him up there, not see him waving at people as he goes up in the booth and stop and talk to people. It's going to be tough," fan Donna Brookshire said.

Santo's casket was carried out of Holy Name at approximately 11:15 a.m., followed by members of his family and those who had filled the pews inside. The procession left Holy Name and headed north State Street, and would then head east on Chicago and south on Michigan. It was expected to turn around in front of the Wrigley building before pausing in front of the WGN radio studio at the Tribune Tower. Next, the procession heads north on Michigan Avenue and Inner Lake Shore Drive and, eventually, goes north on Clark to Wrigley Field. The procession will go for a lap around Wrigley Field.

Fans were invited to gather outside Wrigley to view the procession, which was expected to arrive at 12 p.m. Fans were advised to arrive early. Large crowds were expected.


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