Ron Santo Elected to MLB Hall of Fame: Why Is Santo a Hall of Famer Now?

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IDecember 5, 2011

Call off the "Occupy Cooperstown" protests and the cries for a boycott. Ron Santo is a Hall of Famer, and though it would have been better for it to have happened sooner, it is still worth accepting on his behalf.

In case you missed it, there are Cubs fans suggesting that the Santo family refuse to accept the award in protest of the fact that it occurred posthumously.

And while I agree that Santo deserved enshrinement long ago, I'm sure that the family will gain some enjoyment from the honor.

Still, I must wonder what happened between the end of Santo's playing days and now that he suddenly deserves enshrinement?

It's not as if his statistics have changed. The lobbyists have always been there for Ronny, so it's not as if there was a bigger push now.

No, it seems more than clear to me that, while it is unfortunate to admit, the reason he got in this time is because he died.

Now, count me among those who feel Santo should have been elected to the Hall of Fame a long time ago. Still, the timing seems more than a bit curious to me.

For one thing, he was a prototypical third baseman. He had power and was a middle-of-the-order hitter.

But he was also very gifted with the glove. Although he was overshadowed by the likes of Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson, there is no denying that Santo was an excellent defensive third baseman.

And there are other third basemen with lesser statistics than Santo, who got into the Hall long before he did.

For example, Jimmy Collins had a slash line of .294/.344/.409 with 65 homers. Although he played in the dead ball era, his numbers hardly seem more worthy than Santo's stats.

Meanwhile, in 15 seasons, George Kell had a terrific .306 batting average, but only 78 home runs.

For his career, Santo hit .277/.362/.464 with 342 homers. But he never made it to the postseason, and that probably hurt his chances all these years.

So why did it take this long?

Well, there was a fairly common feeling among voters that the Cubs already had too many Hall of Fame players from teams that didn't win.

Fair or not, the feeling was that Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins were enough. For a team to have four Hall of Famers, why couldn't they even win a division title?

Of course, that is stupid thinking, but it is what it is. Another theory is that Santo's contemporaries didn't like the way he clicked his heels after Cubs victories.

But now that he has passed, he is a more sympathetic figure to voters, and all of a sudden, he is welcomed into Cooperstown with open arms.

It's a damn shame it didn't happen while the man was alive.

In addition to his numbers, another consideration in Santo's favor, at least as far as I am concerned, was that he played with diabetes during a time when the technology wasn't very advanced.

I have diabetes, and I can tell you how much energy it saps from you. And I lived in a time with better testing abilities; plus, I don't play a professional sport at the highest level.

But none of that matters today, as Santo will finally have his bust enshrined in Cooperstown. Some say that it is pointless now that Santo's dead, but I know his family are overjoyed.   

Sure, it would have been nice for him to have been elected while he was alive, just so he could experience what would have been the greatest thrill of his life.

To see the joy in his face would have been worth more than anything money could buy.

So it is a bittersweet moment. But better late than never.

Go ahead and click those heels one last time up in heaven, Ronny.