I’ll never forget that dinner with my family.
I was home from college on a break, and we all went out to a Chinese restaurant. In all the years I had lived in my parents’ house, we had never done that before. It was meant to be a celebration.
But there was something wrong. My youngest brother was feeling bad. Run down. Listless. And that wasn’t like him at all. He had more energy than anyone I had ever met before. Something wasn’t right.
He wasn’t any better by the time I went back to campus. A few days later, I got a call from my mother, informing me that my brother had been diagnosed as a Type I, insulin-dependent diabetic. I didn’t know what that meant, but I found out as time went by. It’s a hideous disease, where a Diabetic’s body is essentially at war with itself. And there isn’t any cure for it, but one day that may become a reality. May we all live long enough to see that happen.
I’m thrilled that Ron Santo finally got into the Hall of Fame. He certainly deserved to receive the honor while he was with us on this earth. Whenever somebody starts in with his stats not being “Hall-worthy,” I ask myself if they have any idea what he was up against as a player. Because if they did, they’d wonder–as I do–why it took so long for him to get voted in to begin with.
Am I saying he deserves it simply because he was diabetic? Not at all. But the awareness he brought to diabetes, and the money he raised for Juvenile Diabetes research, go above and beyond what any player had ever accomplished before. He could have retired to a golf course somewhere, but instead he called Cubs games on the radio, and always thanked Walgreens for their contributions to JDRF. And if that’s the proverial thumb on the scale that gets him into Cooperstown, so be it.
Wherever you are, Ronnie, we’re all thinking about you tonight: Cubs fans, Diabetics and their families, and everyone who understands what you went through to accomplish what you did. We’re not happy that you missed out on it in life, but we’re glad that the voters finally gave you a fair shake. You certainly earned it.