Goodbye Ron Santo
Ron Santo died this morning. I never saw him play, so far as I can recall. He retired in 1973, which would have made me 4 and a half years old. I didn’t really know who he was until I started listening to Cubs games semi-regularly about ten years ago, and I really got to know his voice, his exuberance, and his complete inability to make a radio commercial conversation sound like a regular one just a couple of years ago. Ron Santo wasn’t the best color guy out there, but he never pretended to be (unlike say, Joe Morgan), which gave him a sort of charm. At least it felt like that if you were a fan of the team.
Ron Santo’s voice is scattered through the project I did last summer, a series of information overload poems centered around a half-inning of every game the Cubs played last season. Santo wasn’t traveling as much then–I can’t recall exactly if he stopped going on the road at the beginning of the season or partway through–but he was on the air for nearly every home game, and his exclamations of pain or joy (more of the former this season) were part of nearly every game I listened to, even if they didn’t always make their ways into the poems I built.
The poem I’ve put below ends with one of Santo’s signature happy yells at a great defensive stop turned into a double play. It’s from a game in mid-July when the Cubs weren’t really playing badly, but they couldn’t seem to get any traction. They were well below .500 and way back in the division, but there was still some hope that if they could just put a winning streak together, the other teams in the division would come back to them. It didn’t happen. The Cubs finished July with a record of 12-14 and then the bottom fell out in August.
I built this poem during the bottom of the 4th inning. I can’t even begin to tell you where most of the snippets come from though they seem to read like bits of tweets, mainly from snarky political types to me, with some bits of the game and news stories thrown in. That’s the nature of these poems–there’s no way to remember just where the pieces came from and little way to make sense of them all.
4th in division
11 games back
Tuesday July 6, Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks, Bottom of the 4th, 10:29 p.m.
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