2/24 Hughes preps for life without Santo
On Sunday, Pat Hughes will begin his 16th season as the radio play by play voice of the Cubs but for the first time, he’ll have a new partner. Hughes begins his first season without popular color man Ron Santo, who died Dec. 3 at the age of 70. Friday would’ve been Santo’s 71st birthday.
“The reality is hitting me this week,” Hughes said.
Former Cub Keith Moreland takes over for Santo in the WGN Radio booth, and makes his debut on Sunday when the team opens Cactus League play against the Athletics. Hughes has worked with Moreland in the past, including two series last year.
“I said, ‘You be yourself and relax,'” Hughes said Wednesday night of his advice to Moreland, who was broadcasting University of Texas baseball and football. “[I told him] ‘I’ll try to make you a star and make you shine.'”
That’s always been one of Hughes’ strongest characteristics on air. He never tried to top Santo and his passion. He’s been a steady voice, letting the emotional Santo show his displeasure or glee at plays on the field.
Santo played for the Cubs from 1960-73, and joined the WGN Radio team in 1990. The Cubs retired his No. 10 in September 2003, and players this year will wear a No. 10 patch on their uniform sleeve in his honor. The 2011 media guide features a montage of Santo highlights from his days as a player and broadcaster.
Hughes has asked fans to be patient with Moreland. No one can replace Santo.
“I really do think we’ll be OK,” Hughes said.
He joked that the pressure really is on Cubs manager Mike Quade and the players.
“The best [Moreland] and I can hope for is a winning team,” Hughes said. “If we’re winning, people will think we’re doing a better job than we are.”
— Carrie Muskat