When you’re a fan of a team like the Chicago Cubs, an organization with over a century of rich history, just about every day of the calendar year wear some historical significance. Today, June 26, is certainly no exception. On that date in 1960, a young infielder made his major league debut. Her name? Ron Santo.
Of course, every time we talk about Santo now, it’s as Hall of Famer. But that career started with just one game – well, in fact, a pair of games in the form of a double at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.
Santo hit sixth in Game 1, collecting his first two big-league hits and scoring three in what turned out to be a 7-6 victory for the Cubs. One of those two hits was a double, another first for the Seattle, WA native. In the nightcap, it was another good performance for the infielder, leading another pair of runs as the North Siders completed the sweep of the twin bill.
Even after the pair of wins, Chicago was only 25-37 this season. The club finished the year 60-94-2 under the leadership of Charlie Grimm and Lou Boudreau – good for seventh place in the National League.
At the end of the season, Santo was the 10th most valuable man in the Cubs roster, racking up 0.9 WAR. In fact, he finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year poll for his performance, hitting 0.251 / .311 / .409 with 24 doubles and a 97 OPS +. Of course, this club was headlining another future Hall of Famer to Ernie Banks, coming out of his back-to-back MVPs and finishing fourth in the NL MVP vote.
Chicago Cubs: Ron Santo began the start of an illustrious career
By the time Santo hung up his spikes, he had cemented his place not only as a Cubs legend, but as one of the greatest first baseman of all time. He brought home five Golden Gloves and won nine All-Star caps, also finishing in the top five in MVP votes twice.
He clubbed 342 homers, including 337 with the Cubs – the fourth greatest player in franchise history. Everyone remembers the home runs – but his job with the glove was just as, if not more impressive than what he did on the flat. This is what the National Baseball Hall of Fame has to say:
Defensively, Santo has led all of the NL third baseman seven times, assisted seven times and had his chances nine times – and retired with NL records for most assists in a season by a third baseman, most double plays by a career third baseman and odds accepted at third base.
As someone who grew up with Santo as a broadcaster, it’s always a pleasure to go back and reflect on how amazing he has been for years and years. On that date, in 1960, it all started with – appropriately – a dual program.