Ron Santo Dies at Age 70

Ron Santo (AP)

The Cubs lost one of their greatest players in franchise history and one of its biggest fans Friday after battling bladder cancer. He was 70.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts released the following statement about Santo:

"My siblings and I first knew Ron Santo as fans, listening to him in the broadcast booth. We knew him for his passion, his loyalty, his great personal courage and his tremendous sense of humor. It was our great honor to get to know him personally in our first year as owners.

"Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans. Our thoughts and prayers today are with his wife Vicki and their family, and we share with fans across the globe in mourning the loss of our team's number one fan and one of the greatest third basemen to every play the game."

Santo was a nine-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner and a career .277 hitter in 15 seasons (14 of them with the Cubs) between 1960-74. He finished his career with 342 home runs, 1,331 RBIs, and played in 2,243 games. He played his entire career with type 1 diabetes and later became one of the leading fund-raisers for diabetes research with his annual Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Santo joined the Cubs broadcast booth in 1990 as a color analyst for radio, where he worked each of the last 21 seasons.

Following the news of Santo's passing, fellow Cubs legends Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins all released statements on Santo's life and career.

Ernie Banks: "It certainly is a sad day for everyone who knows and loves Ron Santo. Ronnie has been a friend of mine for more than 50 years and is like a brother to me. Ronnie's entire life was dedicated to his wonderful family, the Chicago Cubs and their outstanding fans.

"On the field, Ronnie was one of the greatest competitors I've ever seen. Off the field, he was as generous as anyone you would want to know. His work for diabetes research seemed unparalleled. Ronnie was always there for you and through his struggles. He was always upbeat, positive and caring. I learned a lot about what it means to be a caring, decent human being from Ron Santo."

Billy Williams: "Ronnie's passing is a tremendous loss not only for the Cubs, but for all of baseball. He is a man who devoted his entire life to the game, to the Cubs, and to the great Cubs fans. He is going to be missed by a lot of people.

"What I learned from Ronnie is he loved the game, he loved the people in the game, and he loved the fans of the game. He enjoyed every moment until the last day of his life. When it came to his beloved Cubs, you never had to look at the scoreboard to know the score of the game; you could simply listen to the tone of his voice. Ronnie was a great friend and will be greatly missed."

Ferguson Jenkins: "This is a very sad day for Cubs fans and baseball fans everywhere. Ronnie, number 10, was and always will be a Chicago legend. He was a tough player. He wanted to play and contribute every day and he never let any obstacles stand in his way.

"Ronnie was one of the leaders on our team. Leo Durocher made him the captain, and he took that role very seriously. As an announcer, Ronnie wore his heart on his sleeve. Off the field, his contributions to diabetes research were unmatched. Ronnie will always be remembered as one of the best third basemen the Cubs have ever had."

Information from the Cubs Media Relations Office was used in this story.

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