12/4 Riggleman on Santo

Nationals skipper Jim Riggleman once was the “fine manager of the Chicago Cubs.” At least, that’s what Ron Santo would call him at the end of his pregame radio interview.

“The thing you remember is this, he was such a fan — he loved the Cubs,” Riggleman said Sunday about Santo, who passed away Thursday. “That’s the great thing about Billy [Williams], Ernie [Banks] and Ronnie. Sometimes veteran players are bitter about today’s players contracts and this and that, but they were all about Cubs. ‘We’ve got to get it right here, we’ve got to win.’ Ronnie was really excited about the team. It was a shock to me that [he died]. I loved my time with him and feel fortunate that I got to know him. He was a legend. He treated me like a friend — there was no talking down to you or anything like that because you didn’t play in the big leagues. He treated you with great respect, and I really thought a lot about him.”

Riggleman was the Cubs manager in 1998 when the team was challenging for the Wild Card and outfielder Brant Brown dropped a fly ball with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth against the Brewers. Santo groaned “Oh, no” — an audio tape worth listening to.

“[Santo] was the first one to console Brant Brown on the [team] plane,” Riggleman said. “He said, ‘Sorry, kid.’ He understood the magnitude of that play. I think Ronnie was like all of us feeling for Brant. We didn’t want that to hang over us.

“[Santo] loves the Cubs, he was passionate about the Cubs. For him, the glass was always half full.”

– Carrie Muskat

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