Ron Santo, a nine-time All-Star third baseman for the Chicago Cubs who battled diabetes throughout his career, was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame with 15 votes from the 16 members of the Golden Era Committee.
The results were announced today at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas. The panel covers the 1947-72 period and is one of three groups set up to consider veterans for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
“I always admired Ron’s courage and loyalty, and I miss him very much,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement released by Major League Baseball. “Today, I am so proud to know that his contributions to baseball will receive the highest honor.”
Santo, who died in December 2010 at the age of 70, had 342 home runs and won five Gold Gloves for his defense. He played for the Cubs from 1960 through 1973 and finished with the Chicago White Sox in 1974.
“Everybody saw the numbers, the homers, the Gold Gloves,” Billy Williams, a former teammate of Santo and a Hall of Fame member who sits on the committee, said in a news conference.
Santo, who became a Cubs radio broadcaster after his playing days ended, will be inducted on July 22, 2012, along with any recently retired players selected in January by a vote of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Nine other former players and executives failed to receive the 12 votes needed from committee members today for induction into the sport’s shrine.
Pitcher Jim Kaat received 10 votes; first baseman Gil Hodges and infielder/outfielder Minnie Minoso got nine each; and right fielder Tony Oliva received eight.
Other former players who failed to receive the required 75 percent of votes cast were Allie Reynolds, Ken Boyer and Luis Tiant. Baseball executives Buzzie Bavasi, the Dodgers’ franchise general manager from 1951 to 1967, and Charlie Finley, who owned the Athletics’ franchise from 1960 to 1980, also were on the ballot.
The voting continues the disappointment of family and fans of Hodges, who helped the Dodgers to seven National League pennants in Brooklyn and Los Angeles and managed the New York Mets to their first World Series title in 1969.
Hodges is the only player no longer included in Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting to be selected on at least 60 percent of ballots -- he did that three times, including 63 percent in his final year of eligibility in 1983 -- and not subsequently get enshrined.
Santo received more than 40 percent of the BBWAA vote only once, capturing 43 percent in his final year of eligibility in 1998.
Hodges, who died in 1972 two days before his 48th birthday, was an eight-time All-Star who started with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and moved with the team to Los Angeles in 1958. He stayed with the Dodgers through 1961 before playing his final two seasons with the Mets, ending his career with 370 home runs, a .274 batting average and 1,274 runs batted in. He won three Gold Gloves for his fielding.
He managed the Washington Senators for five seasons, and then in two years transformed New York from a last-place team into the “Miracle Mets” who went 100-62 in 1969 and won the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles.
Hodges fell short of Hall of Fame induction during his 15 years of post-career eligibility with the writers’ group. He also has been passed over for years by veterans committees, falling one vote short in 1993.
‘Great, Great Player’
“I am very much surprised that he’s not in the Hall of Fame,” Tommy Lasorda, a member of the Golden Era committee and a teammate of Hodges on the 1954-55 Dodgers, said in a news conference today. “He was one of the greatest persons and he was a great, great player.”
Lasorda didn’t say if he voted for Hodges.
Golden Era voters also include Hall of Fame members Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson and Don Sutton, as well as executives such as Gene Michael of the New York Yankees.