7/17 Countdown to Cooperstown

Fergie Jenkins can’t wait until Ron Santo is able to add “Hall of Fame” after his name. Unfortunately, as Cubs fans know, the honor came too late for Santo to do that himself. Santo, the long time Cubs third baseman and radio color man, will be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown. As part of a week-long series of events, Santo, who died in December 2010, almost one year to the day before he was elected into the Hall, was celebrated on Tuesday at the “Cubs Corner” luncheon sponsored by WGN Radio.

“Everybody’s asking how we’re gearing up for it and what we’re looking forward to,” Ron Santo Jr. said. “Personally, I’ve never been there, so I’m looking forward to actually going to Cooperstown and seeing the museum and the town and everything I’ve heard about. It’s just icing on the cake to watch the presentation on Sunday to see dad’s plaque finally go up.”

Santo’s wife Vickie will deliver the speech Sunday, and has been practicing, Ron Jr. said, but not in front of family.

“I think she’d probably be more nervous doing that in front of us than in front of the crowd,” he said.

Jenkins, who was Santo’s Cubs teammate, and inducted into Cooperstown in 1991, will attend the festivities Sunday.

“I think the family in general will be really excited because of the fact that Ronnie is getting inducted,” Jenkins said. “Unfortunately, Ronnie isn’t with us, but now with Ron Santo’s name, you’ll see ‘HOF’ behind it, it’ll be very important. This is an opportunity to get put in a class of great athletes, and Ronnie was a great athlete.”

Santo’s son, Jeff, who directed “This Old Cub,” a movie about his father’s life, has put together a special edition of the film (available at santofilms.com) which includes footage of the statue unveiling at Wrigley Field for his father as well as the city of Chicago’s sendoff after his funeral. Fans also can celebrate Santo highlights on a CD compiled by Hughes, part of his “Baseball Voices” collection.

“This was something he wanted ever since he retired,” Ron Jr. said. “To him, it was the pinnacle.”

– Carrie Muskat

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