Growing up near St. Louis, I was a Cardinals fan instead of a Cubs fan, although I will be eternally grateful to the Cubs for sending us Lou Brock. We would have taken Ron Santo too, if he'd been offered, but Santo, the best third baseman the Cubs have ever had, wasn't going anywhere. He was Chicago through and through, which, in that way familiar to all Cub fans, has been both a blessing and a curse -- a blessing because Santo put up some mighty impressive numbers at Wrigley Field, a curse because he never made it to the World Series and, as of this writing, still hasn't been invited to Cooperstown. "Nice guys finish last," according to Leo Durocher, who coached the Cubs during Santo's heyday. Maybe Santo is just too damn nice.
That's certainly the impression you get from This Old Cub, Jeff Santo's documentary tribute to his father, now the voice of Cubs baseball on WGN radio. As I recall, Santo was a bit of a hothead on the field, berating his own teammates when they dropped the ball. No sign of that today. The Santo we meet here is about as down to earth as one can get, and a hero besides. Diagnosed with diabetes when he was 18, he played his whole career with a Snickers bar at the ready, and the disease has since claimed both legs, but Santo's never let it get him down (or slow him down). The movie takes us through Santo's career, the highlight of which would have to be the 1969 season, when it took a miracle by the Mets to knock the Cubs out of first place. Santo got in the habit, that year, of clicking his heels after each win. And if only in spirit, he's still clicking them today.