Archive: If not now, Santo not thinking when
Originally published Feb. 27, 2007
If Ron Santo sounds a bit impatient these days, well, chalk it up to physical experience and mental gymnastics.
See, Santo knows he's on borrowed time, and though he may be a medical marvel, if not a medical miracle, he's not speculating on whether he will be around the next time the Veteran's Committee considers candidacy for the Hall of Fame in two years.
"If the vote was every year, like it is with the writers' ballot, I don't think I'd worry as much, but with this only every two years, that's a lifetime for me,'' Santo said by phone from his home is Scottsdale, Ariz. "Don't get me wrong, because my health is great right now.
"But the truth is, I'm very lucky to be alive. There's no doubt about it.''
If you're keeping score at home, you already know what Santo has been through the past seven years.
If you haven't, suffice it to say he has lost two legs to diabetes, survived bladder cancer and nearly died on an operating table, and that's just the short list.
"Lets face it, when your heart stops and they have to bring you back, you know you're lucky,'' said Santo, who turned 67 on Sunday. "I feel good. I work out. I don't think about it (dying).
"But I had pneumonia again this winter, and that's not a small thing for me. I was out of the hospital in two days this time, so it wasn't as bad as the last one, but it makes you think about it.
"If they don't put anyone in (the Hall of Fame) again this time, I can't think about two years from now. Who knows anything about two years from now?''
That is true for all of us, but for Santo - a diabetic who has survived a dozen life-threatening crises - a common cold can quite literally lead to something that kills him.
That's why he has gone from hardly talking about the Hall of Fame to seriously worrying about it night and day.
He's feeling his own mortality, perhaps like never before.
"I'm not asking to get voted in, but if it's going to happen, I just want a chance to enjoy it before, you know ... while I can,'' Santo said. "I really want this badly because I want to enjoy it.
"Two years is an eternity for me, and guys can forget, too. Did I vote for him last time? Do I vote for him this time? People forget.
"What do I think about it happening after I'm gone? I don't think I better answer that.''
The fear among his friends is that Santo has gotten his hopes up - again - only to get them crushed - again.
As for what will happen if he doesn't get that call to the Hall today, Santo said, "If it doesn't happen, I'm just gonna forget about it. I'll cry for half an hour and then get back to thinking about the Cubs winning the World Series.''
And with that, Ron Santo went back to wrestling on the living room floor with his grandson Sam.
Living another day as if it might be his last.