They held Ron Santo’s memorial service in Chicago today. Bud Selig spoke. Tom Haudricort transcribed his remarks. In addition to the words in that headline, he included a great anecdote about the man:
“The move of the Milwaukee Braves to Atlanta in the mid-1960s left a void in the lives of everyone in my family. We filled that void with the Chicago Cubs, and no player embodied Cubs’ baseball more than their great fielding, power-hitting third baseman, Ron Santo. He played with unbridled enthusiasm, relentless energy and a tremendous heart.
“My daughter, Wendy, was a youngster then and she, like many young Cub fans, instantly identified Ron as her favorite player.
“One day, my mother, who was a great baseball fan and also a Ron Santo fan, bumped into Ron at a golf course in Arizona. She told Ron her granddaughter just loved him. Ron smiled, took the cap off his head, signed it and asked my mother to give it to her granddaughter. To Wendy, Ron Santo was elevated from favorite player to hero. In turn, over the years, Ron never failed to ask me about Wendy, and, to this day, Ron’s cap remains one of Wendy’s most prized possessions.”
I slam Selig for his rhetoric quite often, but good on the Commissioner for telling that story. Bud Selig is a lot of things, but I don’t think there’s any denying that he’s a real baseball fan.
Rest in peace, Ron Santo.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.