Santo's Hall of Fame credentials about more than just stats


Santo's Hall of Fame credentials about more than just stats

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- When the Golden Era Committee held their meeting late in 2011, Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams went to bat for his teammate, Ron Santo.

Everybody knew Santo's career numbers, but those were not enough to earn him a place in Cooperstown for the three decades his name was on the ballot. So Williams made a big push to the other 15 members of the Committee and emphasized Santo's incredible work in searching for a cure for diabetes.

Santo played 15 years in the major leagues and silently battled his own diabetes all the while. He kept it a secret throughout his entire playing career and eventually lost both his legs to the disease.

"That was Ron," his wife, Vicki, said at Sunday's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. "He never said, 'why me?' He just moved on to the next challenge. The last few years of his life, he had so many things wrong with him and so many different needs, that every single thing that we take for granted -- taking a shower, making a sandwich -- required a lot of different moving parts.

"But he didn't complain and he did not want sympathy. He believed he'd been chosen to go through these things so that he could deliver a message of perseverance, to inspire those with problems of all kinds.

"And above all, he felt it was his job to try to find a cure for juvenile diabetes."

Santo raised more than 65 million for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) over his lifetime. He spoke with countless diabetic fans and inspired children stricken with the disease.

"He worked so tirelessly for juvenile diabetes," Vicki said. "The thing that people don't really realize is not just was he diabetic and working for the cause, but he took the time with anybody that would come up to him.

"They'd say 'my daughter's been diagnosed.' He would sit down with the daughter, eye-to-eye, and talk to them and say 'you can do anything you want to do.' He'd talk to the parents on how to handle it."

In Santo's memory, Vicki and the foundation hold a charity walk every year in October. This past year, the first event after Ron's death, they raised 4.9 million in one day.

"He believed in his journey and he believed in his cause," Vicki said. "His journey has led him here to Cooperstown and his cause is finding a cure. He fought the good fight and though he is no longer here, we must find the cure.

"Ron always believed in a season in which the Cubs could win. He always believed a game was within reach. He also always believed he would find a cure. We can't let him down.

"Walk for the cure. Run for the cure. Donate to research for the cure. Or just pray for the cure. But find a cure."

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start by new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

The Bears concluded their second round of OTAs on Thursday with the third and final set of voluntary sessions scheduled for May 29-June 1. Coach Matt Nagy is bringing a new and complicated system to Chicago, so the time spent on the practice field with the offense and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been invaluable.

"We’ve thrown a lot at Mitch in the last 2 ½ months,” Nagy told Dog Days Sports’ Danny Kanell and Steve Torre on Friday. “He’s digested it really well.”

Nagy’s implementing the same system he operated with the Chiefs, an offense that brought the best out of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. The former first-overall pick went from potential draft bust to MVP candidate under Andy Reid and Nagy’s watch.

Nagy admitted he and his staff may have been a little too aggressive with the amount of information thrust upon Trubisky so far.  It took five years to master the offense in Kansas City, he said, but the first-year head coach sees a lot of similarities between his current and past quarterbacks.

"These guys are just wired differently,” Nagy said when comparing Trubisky to Smith. “With Mitch, the one thing that you notice each and every day is this kid is so hungry. He wants to be the best. And he’s going to do whatever he needs to do. He’s so focused.”

Smith had the best year of his career in 2017 and much of the credit belongs to Nagy, who served as Smith’s position coach in each season of his tenure in Kansas City. He threw for eight touchdowns and only two interceptions during the five regular season games that Nagy took over play-calling duties last year.

Nagy said Trubisky has a similar attention to detail that Smith brought to the Chiefs’ quarterback room.

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It’s not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why,” Nagy said of Trubisky. “He’s a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City.”

A locker room that believes in its quarterback is a critically important variable for success, one that Nagy already sees exists in Chicago.

"When you have that as a coach and when you have that as being a quarterback, not everybody has that, and when you have that you’re in a good spot.”