Monday, September 2, 2013

Billy Williams and Ron Santo

Billy Williams, 2010 and Ron Santo, 2011
Lou Cella
Wrigley Field
1060 West Addison Street

            Known as “Sweet Swinging” Billy Williams (born 1938) for his smooth batting motion, the left fielder had 426 homers and 1475 RBIs during his career and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. His number 26 also was retired in August of that year. This statue was unveiled during a pre-game ceremony on September 7, 2010.
            Williams spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs and was voted “Rookie of the Year” in 1961, playing alongside third baseman Ron Santo. Williams never played in a World Series as a Cub but did make it to the post season while with the Oakland Athletics.
            Depicted making a cross-body throw from third base to nail a runner at first, Ron Santo (1940-2010) was beloved both as third baseman for the Chicago Cubs from 1960-74 and as radio color commentator for the team from 1990-2010. Although the nine-time National League All Star and five-time Gold Glove recipient was denied entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame during his lifetime, he was posthumously elected to the Class of 2012 by the Golden Era Committee. Former teammate Billy Williams became a member of that group in 2011 and he helped make the case for Santo’s election.
            Santo played his entire career with Type I diabetes, a disease that resulted in the amputation of his lower legs late in his life, and he was an active fundraiser and supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. His jersey number 10 was retired by the Cubs organization on September 28, 2003. He knew of the plans to erect this statue at Wrigley Field, but he died before the unveiling at the corner of Addison and Sheffield on August 10, 2011. 

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