February 3, 2005 -- This is a heartfelt documentary of beloved ex-Cub baseball player Ron Santo. It follows Santo, now a Cub broadcaster, through a rough time in his life when he had his second leg amputated as a result of diabetes.
The movie features a number of interesting interviews with ex-players, like Santo's Hall of Fame teammates, Ernie Banks and Billie Williams. There are also interviews with many Cub fans, including actors Bill Murray, his brother Brian Doyle Murray (both brothers appeared in “Groundhog Day”), Dennis Franz of “NYPD Blue,” and Gary Sinise of “Forrest Gump.”
The long World Series drought of the Cubs, now nearing 100 years, is discussed at length. The special relationship between the Cubs and their fans, and their unique ballpark, Wrigley Field, is also examined. One of the greatest of all Cub teams, the 1969 Cubs (of which Santo was a key member) is examined in detail in the film through interviews with players, fans and historical footage.
The film addresses the question of whether or not Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame through a series of comments on the topic by star baseball players, including Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, baseball manager Tommy LaSorda and sportswriter Peter Gammons. The argument made is that Santo was not as good a fielder as Brooks Robinson, or as good a hitter as Mike Schmidt or George Brett, but he had the whole package. He was a multi gold glove fielder, one of the best-hitting third basemen in the game, putting up excellent numbers for average, power and runs batted in, and was a leader on and off the field. His numbers stack up against anyone. Brooks Robinson, one of the greatest third basemen ever to play the game, said Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame. That's good enough for me.
Santo comes across as a remarkable fellow. Despite the loss of his legs and many other setbacks in his life, he is remarkably upbeat and positive. He does not seem to feel sorry for himself. He is a tough guy who works hard and has a lot of heart. In his day, he was known as a “blue collar” type of player, one of the reasons the fans love him so much.
The film gives us an intimate look at Santo. The director got great access to Santo, but there's a good reason for that. The director of the film is Santo's son.
This is not a great documentary, but a must-have for Cubs fans who fondly remember Ron Santo. It is also an eloquent argument for Santo's inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In the words of Stan Ross (“Mr. 3000”), “Let him in!” This film rates a C+.
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