I will be posting a photo-filled, complete recap of my recent trip to Chicago in the next few days. Until I am able to do so, I wanted to let you know about an important event paying tribute to Ron Santo by the JDRF coming up at Wrigley Field on May 19th.
If you had asked Ron Santo what he wanted out of life, his answer would have definitely included two things. A World Series championship for the Chicago Cubs. A cure for diabetes. And not necessarily in that order.
To the youngest Cubs fan, Santo was the voice they heard on the radio, doing color commentary for their favorite baseball team. A Cubs legend, according to stories their elders have told them and what they’ve seen in the books they’ve read.
To the oldest Cubs fan, Santo is not only a name that brings up memories of entertaining broadcasts from an announcer with perhaps an even greater passion for the game and Cubs than all Cubs fans combined. His name also sparks recollection of great moments in Cubs history and the back of a baseball card that puts Santo among the greatest third basemen to ever wear a Cubs uniform.
Perhaps most powerful of all, hearing the name ‘Ron Santo’ also conjures up the moment they realized that the player they’ve made an argument for Hall of Fame induction for so long, not only performed at that level against expected odds such as weather, talented opposing pitching, a day game home schedule and the grueling toll a season of professional baseball takes on an athlete.
He also performed at that level while battling an unseen foe. Santo accomplished it all while battling diabetes.
Santo did all that he possibly could to push the Cubs towards greatness including injecting himself with insulin during ballgames when necessary and pushing his body to the limit. He wanted to be part of the team that ended the Cubs drought and brought a championship to the city of Chicago. And if he wasn’t going to be in uniform when it finally happened, he was going to be in the broadcast booth.
He also worked hard off the field, perhaps even harder, at helping foundations such as JDRF fund research in an effort to find a cure for diabetes.
The Cubs got behind Santo’s effort to find a cure very heavily in 1989 when Santo joined the WGN broadcasting team. You hear the name Santo, you think Cubs. You hear Cubs, you think Santo. You hear the name Santo, also think diabetes. The Cubs know that and know what Santo gave to this organization on the field and in the booth. There was no way they wouldn’t support Santo in his quest to find a cure.
Through the team’s efforts with Cubs Care, they have been a great partner with organizations such as JDRF in working to find a cure and it is this passion to continue Santo’s efforts even after he has passed, along with the work they did alongside Ron, that has earned the Cubs and the Ricketts family the greatest honor the JDRF awards by presenting them with the Best of Illinois award.
On May 19th, at Wrigley Field, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) will be honoring the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs while paying tribute to Ron Santo. The honor has been given by the JDRF since the early 80’s and is the highest honor the organization awards. The award started out as Man of the Year, then Person of the Year and eventually it became Best of Illinois. It has honored athletes, corporate leaders, broadcasters, politicians and more. All of the recipients received the award due to their commitment to finding a cure. Ron Santo propelled the Cubs and the Ricketts family’s passion for finding a cure to new heights. While they are to receive the award on May 19th on Wrigley Field, there is much more work to be done in finding a cure.
In case you were wondering after reading this if there is a way for you to be a part of this wonderful event and help towards a great cause, yes there absolutely is.
You can attend the ceremony and/or spend a day at Wrigley Field in honor of Ron Santo. Here is how:
The JDRF and the Cubs have worked together to organize a day of celebration, tribute and awareness and you can help out by attending in honor of Santo.
The day time portion of the event is geared towards families. Wrigley Field is being showcased as much as the generosity of the Ricketts and Cubs Care. You will be able to see parts of Wrigley that before now, you would have only dreamed of having this type of access.
The day time portion is called the Little Sluggers Family Event. It will go from 2-5pm and will involve a tour of Wrigley, guided by a Cubs Ambassador. For $150 per adult/child, you will be able to walk on the field and have a catch (no cleats please), tour the players’ locker rooms, enjoy complimentary concessions and beverages, bat in the batting cages, tour the media booth where Santo used to call Cubs games and view a special tribute video to Santo. When the JDRF and the Cubs would team up for events in the past, Ron would always record a welcoming video to those that attended. This year, the video will be in honor of Ron.
The evening ceremony is when the Best of Illinois honor will be presented to the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs. For $250 per individual, you will able to enjoy all of the perks of the Little Sluggers Family Event (only without the guided tour feel by a Cubs Ambassador…you may tour the same areas at your own speed) as well as attend the evening ceremony and eat dinner at one of the night’s delicious buffet stations. An afternoon of making Wrigley your home followed by an evening of dinner at the ballpark and watching your favorite team and their owners be recognized for their work to find a cure for diabetes? It sounds like a great day to me. For $1200 per individual, you get the same opportunities as the $250 price, however your dinner will be at a reserved table under the dining tent and will include your own seat in an assigned section of the ballpark to watch the evening’s program. (NOTE: purchasing a ticket to the evening event gains you access only to the evening portion of the day. The day time event is a completely separate portion of the day’s festivities altogether).
If you have a large group of friends that you would like to enjoy the day with, you may also purchase tables of 10 for $10,000 and $25,000. For $10,000 you enjoy all of the opportunities mentioned above and your table is in the main dining tent as well. For $25,000 you receive all of the above plus a celebrity guest will join you for dinner. Former Cubs players have been known to attend such events and while there is no guarantee that your celebrity will be a former Cub, no matter who you are sitting with will have a place in their heart for the team and the cause like the rest of your group. (And if it is a former Cub?? How cool would that be!?)
The evening’s program will include a live auction including a signed Santo jersey donated by the Santo family, a tribute to Ron on the field, proceeds donated to a Fund a Cure’s specific area of research, in this case, complications in honor of Santo, the Best of Illinois presented to the Ricketts, and an acceptance by Tom Ricketts followed by an address from the Santo family.
I made a statement in my previous post that it’s nice to see people helping people nowadays. Cubs fans to other Cubs fans are like family and the Cub players, current and former including Santo are definitely some of our favorite relatives. The Cubs have been doing great things for years to support Santo’s and the JDRF’s efforts in finding a cure.
Santo wanted two things: a World Series title for the Cubs and a cure for diabetes. Cubs fans know he did all he could in both areas. He certainly would have wanted us all to be a part of the celebration when the Cubs finally won the Series.
In his honor, let’s hope that opportunity presents itself one day. In the meantime, let’s take
it upon ourselves to also be a part of finding a cure. In honor of Ron Santo, if you can attend either portion of the day, please do. It’s a great cause and a great organization. If you are unable to attend, you may make a donation of any amount at the following website: http://www.jdrfillinois.org/dinner/index.html
All donations help and are greatly appreciated. Baseball can be more than just a game and there are more than a couple ways to honor a former great one. The number is retired and the patches have been sewn to the sleeves. If you can, let’s honor Santo one more time by helping to find a cure
in honor of #10. And as always, Go Cubs Go.