Since he arrived in Chicago at the age of 20, through countless memories, ups and downs, cheers and cries, Ron Santo was a hero to Cub fans.
Fans packed Wrigley Field to watch the third baseman's many thrills, then later joined him on the 720 radio dial as he delivered passion to each broadcast.
Ron Santo won't be in Cooperstown to witness his induction to baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday, but he will be represented by millions of Cub fans whom he personified so perfectly.
Generations of Cubs fans have their own memories of Ron Santo; either as a nine-time All-Star player, a passionate broadcaster, or as a role model who used his platform to raise $60 million for juvenile diabetes research.
In tribute, Santo's No. 10 flies over Wrigley Field and a statue in his honor stands outside Wrigley Field. It's a deserving salute to a hero for all ages.
Santo spent his life fighting, but did so with tremendous courage. During his playing career, he concealed his diabetes in fear he would be forced into retirement from the game he loved. It was after his career in which he began fighting for children with the disease, while serving as a symbol of bravery.
As a broadcaster, Santo embodied the feeling of each Cubs fan through each game. With each Cubs home run, following the call of play-by-play voice Pat Hughes, Santo would unleash a loud "Yes!" -- a similar reaction to the fans in the bleachers.
There was the infamous game in 1998 in which Brant Brown dropped a routine fly ball, blowing a lead to the Brewers and nearly cost the Cubs a chance to win the Wild Card. Upon witnessing the miscue, Santo screamed out "Oh no! Oh no!" As Pat Hughes recalled in the documentary "This Old Cub," Santo was consoled by Cubs manager Jim Riggleman.
Santo was the Cubs' biggest fan. Is eternal optimism and positive energy helped fuel fans for each season.
After each game, fans gathered outside the press box where they waited for their hero. Win or loss, Santo had time for the fans; signing autographs, taking pictures, and talking baseball. It was his role as an ambassador of Cubs baseball, and he embraced it.
Despite his truly special playing career, Santo wasn't recognized by fans as a baseball god, simply because he was one of them; he was human. Yet Santo will be enshrined with the gods, immortalizing one of the greatest figures in Cubs lure. It's a fitting and deserving honor for a true great.
Santo will be honored posthumously in Cooperstown, represented by his family and friends. Watching proudly will be the many fans -- spanning generations -- whose lives he touched through each game, broadcast, and memory.
That measure of Ron Santo is greater than the Hall of Fame.