Preps Talk

Santo was just a neighbor in Elmwood Park


Santo was just a neighbor in Elmwood Park

In Elmwood Park, the corner of 75th Court and Armitage isn't anything special. Modest one or two-story bungalows line the streets in a neighborhood that hasn't changed much in the last 50 or so years.

Only a few blocks away, mansions adorn the streets of River Forest, where former Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano once called home (he put that home on the market in October for over 900,000). The differences in housing represent a difference in time periods, at least for baseball players.

Ron Santo lived at 1934 N 75th Court in Elmwood Park from his days as an up-and-coming Cubs third baseman through the late 1960's. It's a small house that doesn't have an upstairs. Fire-red bricks line the outside, giving way to neatly-trimmed bushes and a verdant green lawn. It's not the kind of house in which you'd expect a professional athlete once resided.

The block of 75th Court between Cortland and Armitage was named Honorary Ron Santo Way by the village of Elmwood Park Monday morning. Plenty of longtime Elmwood Park residents still remember the time when a star athlete was nothing more than their neighbor.

"I've heard many stories about him just being a member of the community, playing catch on the driveway of his house, just mixing with the neighbors," Peter Silvestri, village president of Elmwood Park, said. "Ron Santo has the reputation of being one who took time with kids, took time with fans who lived among the people, among the fans."

Back in Santo's heyday, multi-million dollar salaries were unfathomable. As a 22-year-old, Santo earned 22,000 from the Cubs. Ernie Banks' 65,000 in 1968 was on the high end, while a young Ken Holtzmann was paid 15,000 in 1967.

Baseball players couldn't afford to live in palatial homes. It's hardly a knock on players today who do, given they have the means to do so. But Santo only rented the house in Elmwood Park, and his middle-class living arrangement was hardly out of the ordinary.

"He's someone that we recognize as a true Chicago legend, and we're very proud of the fact that he lived in our community for the period of time that he did," Silvestri said. "He's remembered by a lot of people very fondly -- it's one thing to know someone as a legend like a baseball player, but it's also interesting when they're also your neighbor."

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

High School Lites had a busy show as it was the final week of the regular season for IHSA boys basketball Class 3A and 4A. The Class 1A and 2A playoffs also tipped in boys basketball as the show has some thrilling regional titles that were decided in the final minute. And finally, the girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals were played on Friday as the state's top teams played in Bloomington.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Richards wrestler Mia Palumbo

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Simeon boys basketball


Marshall shocks Leo in Class 2A regional final

Aurora Christian runs past Harvert Christian for 1A regional title

Buzzer-beater lifts Monticello over Gibson City for regional title

Jacobs goes unbeaten in Fox Valley with win over Dundee-Crown

West Aurora gets by rival East Aurora

Yorkville completes season sweep of DeKalb

Lemont escapes past T.F. North

Marshall needs OT to get past Teutopolis in girls 2A semifinals

Harlan takes down Eureka in 2A semifinals

Stockton runs by Okaw Valley in 1A

Schlarman races by Lebanon

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.