What Meeting Planners Can Learn From Ron Santo

Today is a sad day in Chicago and in Cubbie-Land which stretches from sea to shining sea and beyond. A true baseball legend has passed, Mr. Ron Santo. Ronnie went into the Field of Dreams due to complications from Bladder Cancer and his diabetes, he was 70 years young and still the voice of the Cubs on radio.

I will miss him on the radio when I am driving on a hot summer’s day; the windows are down, and the Cubbies are getting ready to play. He would celebrate the Cubs when they were playing well and let everyone know how he felt when they were not.

I was not always a Cub fan; I grew up on the East Coast and that made me either a Red Sox or Yankee fan in my younger years (and it flipped back and forth before settling on Red Sox). After moving to Chicago, I have become a die-hard, wait till next year, Ivy loving, right field bleacher sitting Cub Lover. For many of my years here, I lived within one block of the field and could hear the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd just sitting on my front stoop. The Cubs and a Beer were the only things you needed to have a perfect summer day.

I have been here 22 years, and the Cubs have now been my favorite team for longer than any other, so that makes me a true fan, although, many will tell you, I still wear and love my Red Sox cap (I am wearing it right now). I am never giving it up because it is way comfortable and who cares, they are in the American League anyway.

Ron Santo was a true Cubs legend, here are some of his achievements on and off the field:

  • Played for the Cubs from 1960-73
  • Played for the National League in the All-Star game nine times
  • Batted .277 during his career
  • A Career total of 342 home runs, and 1,331 RBIs
  • Became a Cubs color commentator in 1990 on WGN
  • Member of the first Cub’s Walk of Fame class
  • Named to the Cubs’ all-century team in 1999
  • Ron’s number was retired in 2003 and his No. 10 now flies from the left-field flagpole at Wrigley Field
  • Has been up for election to the Hall of Fame 19 times (he should be there)
  • For more than two decades sponsored an annual walk-a-thon to help seek a cure for diabetes
  • Raised millions of dollars for diabetes research

Those are great achievements and are amazing on their own merits, but Ronnie never had it easy. He was diagnosed with diabetes at 18; his alcoholic father abandoned his family and after his mother had remarried, she and his stepfather were killed in an auto accident on their way to see him in Spring Training.

Later in life, his diabetes forced the amputation of both his legs, he had heart attacks and even had quadruple bypass surgery……. He kept going and going and even went right back to his radio gig as soon as he was able. You can learn more about him in this New York Times obit.

What never changed about Ronnie was his sense of humor, his ability to call it as he saw it and his loyalty to the Cubs (yes he played a season with the White Sox). He loved the fans and the causes he supported. He was a funny guy and people loved him. You could almost say that the hardships he endured and the setbacks he faced made him more real to his fans than his achievements on the field. He was not perfect, and we did not care, it made him one of us.

So, what can meeting and event planners learn from someone like Ron Santo? Many things actually.

  • A great sense of humor helps, especially when the going gets tough
  • Shit happens, don’t let it stop you from reaching a goal
  • Practice makes perfect, so get off your ass and practice some more
  • The fundamentals win more games than flashy plays and tricks
  • Hard work pays off, keep trying and trying no matter what
  • Don’t sit around and bitch about what you can’t change, just get out there and get it done
  • Be loyal, loyalty pays off in the long run
  • Fight the good fight and fight to win
  • If you believe in something, don’t let anyone else get in your way
  • Speak your mind, even if it pisses people off, sometimes they need to know
  • Love what you do and nothing else matters
  • Understand that life is not fair but life can be great anyway

See Ya Later Ronnie, Tell Harry, and Jack, we all say Hello……….



Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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