Friday • December 15
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Remembering Ron
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Cubs fans across the nation were stunned and heartbroken at the sudden passing of Wrigley Field icon Ron Santo, who dazzled a generation of Cubs fans with his play on the field, and endeared himself to even more with his work in the broadcasting booth. David Spada and Elliot Harris pay tribute to Ron the player, Ron the broadcaster, and Ron the man with former teammates Billy Williams, Milt Pappas, Glenn Beckert and Don Kessinger.
Episode Segments:
 
Ron Santo Tribute: Billy Williams
Billy has some great stories about some pranks he pulled with Ronnie during their playing days, and thinks its only a matter of time before Ron has a statue of his own outside Wrigley.
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Ron Santo Tribute: Don Kessinger
Don says he was blessed to be a part of the Cubs million dollar infield, but things were never the same after Ron went over to the South Side. Don says Ron certainly had a passion for baseball, and a passion for life.
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Ron Santo Tribute: Milt Pappas
What was the bigger crime: Milt missing out on the perfect game, or Ron Santo not making the Hall? We’ll get the answer. Milt also has high praise for Ron’s work in the booth - a job that was almost his.
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Ron Santo Tribute: Glenn Beckert
Glenn tells us he is amazed at the national coverage of Ron’s passing. We get his feeling on Ron the player, the roommate and the business partner, as well as his tireless work with the juvenile diabetes foundation.
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Ron Santo Tribute: Fergie Jenkins
Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins remembers Ron Santo as a leader on the field and in the clubhouse.
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Guest(s) Appearing on this Episode
Billy Williams
Williams was born in Whistler, Alabama. He began his career in 1959, a career which nearly stopped before it got under way. Growing up in an integrated neighborhood in the Mobile suburb, he had never experienced overt racial discrimination until he played for the Cubs minor league club in San Antonio, Texas. He was so discouraged that he left the team and went home. Buck O'Neil, the Cubs scout who had originally discovered Williams, was dispatched to Whistler and he persuaded Williams to try again. (Billy Williams: My Sweet-Swinging Lifetime with the Cubs, by Billy Williams and Fred Mitchell, Triumph Books, 2008, Chapter 1) Williams then advanced quickly through the minor league ranks, joining a Cubs team that would feature stars such as Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, and Ron Santo by the early 1960s. Williams was selected as the Rookie of the Year in 1961. Williams also set a National League record for consecutive games played with 1,117 between 1962-1971 (eclipsed by Steve Garvey 1975-1983 with 1,207). As his consecutive games streak began to accumulate, he was dubbed "Iron Man" by some writers, and co-authored a 1970 book called Iron Man. Cleo James replaced him in the lineup at the end of his streak. From 1961 to 1973, Williams annually hit at least twenty home runs and was responsible for eighty-four or more RBIs. Williams' batting stroke was smooth and efficient, with quick wrist action that allowed him to hit for both average and power despite his slender frame. Early in his career he acquired the nickname, "Sweet-Swinging Billy Williams", sometimes shortened to "Sweet Williams" or "Sweet Billy.” Williams was primarily a leftfielder, but he was also placed in right, center and first base from time to time. During 1965-66 he played primarily right field, as other players were tested in left. Toward the end of his Cubs career he began to be placed at first base, and in 1974 he played more games at first than in left.[3] Williams was better known for hitting than for defense, but he made crucial catches in two different no-hitters by Cubs pitchers: Ken Holtzman in 1969, and Milt Pappas in 1972. Williams enjoyed his finest season in 1972 at age 34, when he paced the league in batting average with a .333 mark, also posting a .606 slugging percentage while collecting 37 home runs and 122runs batted in. He finished behind Johnny Bench in the MVP selection. 1972 was his last great season in the league. After the 1974 season, he was traded to the American League's Oakland Athletics for second baseman Manny Trillo and two pitchers. Williams helped lead Oakland to the 1975 American League West championship as a designated hitter, hitting 23 homers with 81 RBI. He retired a year later. After accumulating a lifetime .290 BA with 426 homers and 1475 RBI, Billy Williams was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. On 13 August of that same year Williams' number 26 was retired at Wrigley Field. His was the second number retired by the Cubs, the first being Ernie Banks' number 14. Following his departure from the Cubs, the number had been reassigned to other players from time to time, most notably Larry Biittner, although Williams reclaimed it during several intervals of coaching with the Cubs after his playing days had ended. In 1999, he was named as a finalist to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 2010, the Cubs honored Williams with a statue outside of Wrigley Field.

Billy's Career Stats

 
Milt Pappas
A 17-year MLB veteran, Pappas, nicknamed “Gimpy,” pitched for the Baltimore Orioles (1957–1965), Cincinnati Reds (1966–1968), Atlanta Braves (1968–1970) and Chicago Cubs (1970–1973). A control specialist, Pappas pitched in 520 games, starting 465, with 209 wins, 164 losses, 43 shutouts, 1728 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA in 3186.0 innings pitched.

Milt's Career Stats

 
Don Kessinger
Kessinger, a six-time All-Star, graduated from the University of Mississippi, where he was initiated into the Sigma Nu Fraternity, and was signed by the Chicago Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1964. Kessinger was not particularly renowned for his offensive production, but played an excellent defensive game at shortstop. In three different seasons with the Cubs, he turned 100 or more double plays. He won the Gold Glove for shortstops in 1969 and 1970. Eventually Kessinger went on to play for the crosstown Chicago White Sox, becoming a player-manager in 1979. However, he resigned before the end of the season and retired as a player on August 2, 1979. In 1978, he earned the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Don Kessinger was hired prior to the 1991 season as head baseball coach at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi. Kessinger would spend six years as the Ole Miss skipper, leading the Rebels to four 30-win seasons. His 1995 team produced a school record for wins, going 40-22 and earning the school’s first NCAA Regional bid since 1977. Ole Miss finished on the verge of its first World Series appearance since 1972, placing second at the NCAA Atlantic I Regional behind host-Florida State. Following the 1996 season, Kessinger resigned his head coaching position to take an administrative post within the athletic department. He finished with a six-year record of 185-153.

Don's Career Stats

 
Glenn Beckert
Beckert was drafted from Allegheny College as an amateur free agent by the Boston Red Sox in 1962, then selected by Chicago Cubs from Red Sox in the first-year minor league draft. He spent three years in the minors as a shortstop, where he lead the Pacific Coast League in putouts and assists in 1964. Following the sudden death of Cubs second baseman, Ken Hubbs in 1964, the Cubs brought Beckert to the major leagues as their second baseman for the 1965 season. Beckert played nine seasons as the Cubs' second baseman. During his entire Cub tenure, he played alongside shortstop Don Kessinger. Beckert led the National League in assists during his rookie year, and went on to become a four-time All-Star.[1] He was a tough batter, leading the league five times in fewest strikeouts per at bats. In 1968, he led the league in runs and won the National League Gold Glove Award for second baseman.[5][6] He had his best offensive season in 1971 when he had a .342 batting average to finish third in the National League batting championship behind Joe Torre and Ralph Garr. After the 1973 season, he was traded along with Bobby Fenwick to the San Diego Padres for Jerry Morales Beckert was a utility infielder and pinch hitter with the Padres before being released in April 1975. He is an inductee in the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.

Glenn's Career Stats

 
Ferguson Jenkins
Jenkins had several unfortunate runs of bad luck that cost him notoriety. He lost thirteen games by the score of 1-0, despite going the distance for the loss. In addition, he suffered 45 shutout losses, the sixth highest total in history. His teams (Phillies, Cubs, Rangers, and Red Sox) were basically mediocre - they posted an almost exact .500 record in games Jenkins didn’t get a decision. In his games, they were .557. In 1969, his Cubs blew a lead and lost the division title to the Mets. In 1976 he joined Boston the season after they played in the World Series. With the Rangers he was never able to get to the post-season, due to poor management and waste of talent. In 1983 he retired with the Cubs, and the next season they finished first. Jenkins was born east of Detroit – in Canada. He grew up playing hockey and wasn’t a pitcher until a teammate hurt his arm and Jenkins was forced onto the mound. In June, 1962 he was signed to his first pro contract, by the Phillies. In four seasons in the minors, Fergie went 43-26, and was finally given a shot in September of ’65 with Philadelphia. He began the ’66 season in the Phils bullpen, but soon was packaged in a deal with the Cubs. The Phillies felt they needed veteran pitching to push them over the top. They traded Jenkins, Adolpho Phillips, and John Herrnstein to Chicago for pitchers Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl. Both pitchers better years were behind them – combined they won 47 games for the Phillies in three seasons. Jenkins would win 282 games for the Cubs and others. It was one of the worst trades in baseball history. In his first game with the Cubs, Jenkins slugged a home run and won in relief. He was inserted in the rotation later in the year, winning six games. In 1967 he won twenty games for the first time. He followed with 20, 21, 22, 24, and 20 wins the next five years, through 1972. In 1971 he earned the Cy Young award (24-13, 2.77, 263 K’s). His string of 20-win seasons ended in 1973 (14-16), and the Cubs dealt him to the Rangers for young Bill Madlock. With Texas in ’74, Jenkins won a career-high 25 games and was voted the Comeback Player of the Year. In his first start with Texas, he blanked their rival Oakland A’s, 2-0, on one hit. After winning 17 games for the Rangers in 1975, he was again traded, this time to defending AL champ Boston. He was never at home with the Sox, and struggled to a 22-21 record in two seasons. Once again he was shipped to Texas, where he anchored a staff that included fellow castoffs Jon Matlack, Doyle Alexander, and Gaylord Perry. Jenkins went 51-42 in his four-season, second-stint with Texas. The lowlight of the time with Texas comes on August 25, 1980, in Toronto, when Jenkins is arrested for possession of cocaine, at Exhibition Stadium. The ensuing publicity and brief trial cause a stir in Canada, where Jenkins is a hero. Finally, a sympathetic judge waves a guily verdict and exonerates Jenkins. MLB suspends Jenkins in September, but that ruling is also overturned after an arbitrator dismisses the claim. After the ’81 season, Jenkins was a free agent and few teams showed interest. In a homecoming story, the Cubs took a chance on the 38-year old right-hander, signing their old ace. In ’82 he showed some flashes of his old success, winning 14 games and posting a 3.15 ERA. He finished up in 1983, struggling and ending up in the Cubs bullpen. His career was marked by his incredible durability and control. He struck out more than 3,000 batters and is the only man to do so while also allowing less than 1,000 walks. In 1991 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Fergie's Career Stats