It's why there was a line that at times stretched 300 deep for his visitation.
It's why Holy Name Cathedral was packed to the rafters with friends, former teammates and the who's who of Chicago.
It's why hundreds of fans gathered outside Wrigley Field on a chilly December morning for one final salute to good ol' No. 10 as he took a last lap around his favorite place in the world.
It's because when it came to Ron Santo and what he meant to the Cubs and their millions of fans both as a player and a broadcaster the equation was simple.
"Joy plus hope plus courage equals Ron Santo," Monsignor Daniel G. Mayhall said, opening a service for Santo that featured almost as many laughs as tears and appropriately so, say those who knew the Cubs legend best.
"We're going to do this with a smile on our face because that's the way he'd recognize us," Mayhall said.
Santo, 70, died Dec. 2 in Arizona of bladder cancer after a lifelong battle with diabetes that took both of his legs but couldn't keep him out of the broadcast booth, where he cheered and moaned along with Cubs fans everywhere over every victory or defeat.
Santo spent 15 seasons playing baseball, and 21 more as a color commentator on WGN Radio broadcasts, the last 15 with partner Pat Hughes.
Pallbearers Ernie Banks, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams; current Cubs players Ryan Dempster and Tom Gorzelanny; former Cubs Kerry Wood and Ted Lilly; and Chicago icons such as Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, Blackhawks President John McDonough and the Rev. Jesse Jackson were among recognizable faces and friends of Santo packed into Holy Name Cathedral to remember and celebrate Santo's life.
It was Hughes who provided plenty of smiles Friday morning as he recounted some now-famous stories about Santo, including the time his hairpiece caught fire from an overhead heater at Shea Stadium, or the time he tried to sneak some yogurt out of a machine in the press box in Arizona, only to witness in horror as it failed to turn off and yogurt spewed everywhere.
"He was wonderful at laughing at himself," said Hughes. "He taught me how to laugh at myself."
Kerry Wood, too.
"We were in Houston one day in '07 or '08, and I told him I would do the interview in the morning of a day game," the former Cubs pitcher said after attending the service with his wife, Sarah. "He started to talk: 'I'm here with the fine Chicago Cubs pitcher …' and he just got locked up.
"I said, 'Ronnie, it's been almost 10 years.' Then he starts over. He says, 'We're here in Cincinnati.' I said, 'Ronnie, we're in Houston.' Countless stories. Countless memories. And they're all great."
And they're the reasons so many people tuned into the broadcasts, not just for Santo's insights on the game, but for his regular-Joe, bleed-Cubbie-blue, fan-on-the-street mentality.
"We'd be sitting at home, Shirley and I. We had been around Ronnie for a long time," said former teammate and Hall of Famer Billy Williams. "My wife would turn off the TV and say, 'I want to listen to Ron Santo.' You listened because he spread a lot of joy.
"People in radioland hear the Cub games each day, and they're excited about listening to the radio because he'd say such positive things and have such a great time with Pat Hughes."
In addition to Hughes, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig also eulogized Santo.
"With every moan and groan, we knew what Ron was saying," Ricketts said. "Ron was the fan in the booth."
Selig relayed a story of how a random act of kindness toward his daughter by Santo blossomed into a lifelong friendship between him and Santo.
"He was the heart and soul of the team for his listeners," Selig said. "If you loved baseball, you loved Ron Santo."
Although he was passed over for the Hall of Fame, Hughes said Santo had his "Hall of Fame moment" in 2003 when the Cubs hoisted his retired No. 10 up the left-field foul pole, below teammate Ernie Banks' No. 14.
While the proceedings at Holy Name were invitation-only, at Clark and Addison it was an inspiration-only affair, as a crowd estimated to be about 500 gathered near the Wrigley Field marquee. They came to leave mementos and pose for pictures, but mostly to get a chance to say a final goodbye to a man they adored, serenading him with a spur-of-the-moment rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Included in that crowd was Fred Simms, who, as soon as he heard of Santo's death, flew from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Chicago to pay his respects.
"He's like a national treasure," Simms said. "He epitomized Chicago. He's the lifeblood of the Cubs. He's the voice of the Cubs, the face of the Cubs.
"It's a heck of a loss … like a member of the family."
It's that kind of sentiment Santo wouldn't have wanted to permeate this day, so we'll leave it to his longtime broadcast partner to paint the final picture of the man he called "the No. 1 Cubs fan ever, a partner, a friend."
"Whatever memory of Ron you have," Hughes said, "I would like to ask you a favor: However you remember him, please do so with a big smile on your face. … He would have liked that."
• Bruce Miles contributed to this report.