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."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats


SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

David Haugh, Jordan Cornette, Shae Peppler join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Mark Schanowski joins SportsTalk Live to discuss Kris Dunn’s sprained MCL, Fred Hoiberg’s tough luck and Zach LaVine postgame criticisms of the coaching. Plus they’ll discuss another 0-3 team- LeBron’s Lakers.

20:00 – The panel discusses Mitchell Trubisky’s performance vs. the Patriots. Jordan makes the case that the media is giving the former No. 2 pick a pass.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast


Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught


Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

Through the opening week of the NBA season, Hornets' All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and former Bull Niko Mirotic share the league scoring lead, averaging 33 points per game.

Bulls' fans have seen these hot stretches from Niko before, and chances are he'll start moving down to the mid to high-teens before long. But Walker is a big-time scorer who's quietly emerged as one of the most consistently productive point guards in a league loaded with stars at that position. He's averaged over 20 points and 5 assists in each of the last three seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team twice.

Last season, Walker lit up the Bulls for 47 points in an overtime loss at the United Center in November, making some of the most difficult shots you can imagine to keep his team in the game. He seems to be as this best when facing the Bulls and you can bet Fred Hoiberg and his staff will pull out all the stops to try to slow him down, especially with defensive ace Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL in his season debut on Monday.

The Hornets made some personnel changes since last season. The one-year experiment with Dwight Howard at center is over. Howard put up solid numbers for Charlotte a year ago, but didn't make much difference in the win-loss column, so he's moved on to Washington in his NBA odyssey. Cody Zeller is now the starting center, backed up by Bismack Biyombo and former Benet Academy and University of Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.

Charlotte tried to improve the athleticism on their roster by selecting Malik Monk and Miles Bridges in the first rounds of the last two drafts. Monk is getting more playing time this season, averaging 13.5 points in the Hornets' first four games. Bridges is averaging just under 16 minutes a game as a backup to starting forwards Marvin Williams and Nic Batum. Just like he did at Michigan State, Bridges is providing those highlight reel putback dunks, but it remains to be seen whether he'll develop a consistent enough outside shot to be a quality starter in the NBA.

The well-traveled Jeremy Lamb is now starting in the backcourt with Walker, and the Hornets brought in long-time Spurs' point guard Tony Parker to add some much needed experience and veteran savvy off the bench. Given the current state of the Eastern Conference (post-LeBron), it's not out of the question for this group to contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Here's what the Bulls need to do for a shot at their first win of the season. This also applies to the rematch in Charlotte on Friday.

1. CORRAL KEMBA. For whatever reason, seeing that Bulls' logo turns Walker into an almost unstoppable scoring machine. Walker is adept at working off his big men, either in straight pick and rolls or cutting through the post on give-and-go plays. He's one of the league's most creative scorers, and doesn't require much room to get his shot off. The Bulls' bigs will have to provide help on Walker whenever he comes off screens to keep him from taking over the game.

2. PUT THE BALL IN ZACH'S HANDS. Whether he's playing shooting guard or point guard, Zach LaVine needs to be the primary facilitator with Dunn sidelined. LaVine scored 34 points against Dallas Monday night on just 15 shots, which led to him questioning some of the offensive sets that were run in the 2nd half. LaVine told reporters on Tuesday that he smoothed things over with his head coach, explaining his comments were the result of the frustration he was feeling after a third-straight loss to open the season. Still, LaVine is on a major hot streak, joining Bulls' all-time greats Michael Jordan and Bob Love as the only players to start the year with three straight games scoring at least 30 points. The Bulls will need to ride that hot hand for as far as LaVine can carry them.

3. DEFEND THE 3-POINT LINE. You knew I would eventually get to this, right? Dallas made 15 of 47 3-point attempts on Monday after the Pistons knocked down 18 of 40 in a two-point win last Saturday. The Hornets have all kinds of capable 3-point shooters in Walker, Lamb, Monk, Batum and Williams (they're shooting .397 as a team on 3's), so guarding the arc will be crucial for the Bulls to have a chance at their first win.

Don’t forget you can catch Wednesday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and the new MyTeams by NBC sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 pm when Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Kelly Crull join me for Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium. Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play-by-play call at 7 pm, then stay tuned after the final buzzer for Bulls Postgame Live and the always entertaining Bulls Outsiders.