Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ron Santo: An Inspiration for All of Us

Ron Santo was laid to rest yesterday.

When I was a young boy, Ron Santo was one of the stars on the Chicago Cubs team that turned me into a baseball fan for life. He was a great player – a nine-time All-Star, five time Gold Glove winner, and the preeminent third baseman in the National League. And, he had a fiery passion for the game that was obvious even to us youngsters.

But that’s not why I am writing about him now.

Ron Santo was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 18 years old, but did not let people know about it until his baseball career was well established. That he was able to be so successful says much about his mental toughness.

His struggles with the disease continued long after he was done playing baseball. For the past 20 years, he has been part of the Cubs’ radio broadcast team. For the last eight years, he’s had to make the climb up to the broadcast booth each day without the use of his legs, which had to be amputated as a result of his diabetes. He continued to battle the effects of the diabetes every day until he died, about a week ago.

Yet, to hear Ron on the radio, you’d think that life couldn’t be better for him. He groaned when the Cubs made a bad play, but never once complained about the hand he was dealt in life. In fact, his enthusiasm was infectious. You couldn’t help but smile when listening to Ronnie cheer on the Cubs. He loved his Cubs, loved being at the ballpark, and loved life.

We all can take a lesson from Ron Santo.

It is understandable that we can sometimes feel discouraged or frustrated with our situations. Sometimes it is hard to see the light. But, staying down won’t get you anywhere. It takes courage to stay strong in the face of adversity. Ron Santo never gave up on the Cubs, or himself. And, because of that, he made the most of his life.

Thank you, Ronnie. We will miss you, but will always carry your inspiration in our hearts.

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