Ten days to Opening Day and there are two different players we look at No. 10 in Cub lore. They could not possibly be any more different – that’s what makes it fun.
Let’s start with the guy who wore No. 10 after it should have already been retired. From 1978 to 1980 there were few players like Dave Kingman. Reserved, shy and reportedly very hard on himself, he had a year fit for a king in 1979. Kingman hit .288 (he was a career .236 hitter) with 48 home runs while driving in 115 runs. You would think putting up offensive numbers like that would at least get you in the MVP conversation. Not Kingman. He was do disliked he could not buy a vote.
But, there’s a reason why No. 10 is worn no longer – Ron Santo.
Younger Cub fans remember his love for the team by listening to him do games on WGN radio. Love for team – there’s a concept. One Dave Kingman never truly got.
Santo played no less than 154 games a season from 1961-71 and was one of the most productive players in the game for entire 15-year career. 342 home runs, nine All-Star games, five Gold Gloves and four top-10 finishes in MVP voting later, Santo was the best third baseman the Cubs have ever fielded.
He may be the best “guy” the Cubs have ever put out there, too.
Kingman hit over 100 more home runs in his career. That’s the only thing he did better than Santo – and Santo’s 342 home runs are nothing to balk at. Teammates and coaches always said that Kingman would have rather been on his yacht fishing than on any baseball field.
Teammates, coaches and fans have always known where Santo’s loyalties lied. He was happiest when he was at Wrigley Field, from his rookie year in 1960 to the day he passed back in 2010. Ironic that he passed in ’10, actually.
Now that the number is retired we can say that there has never been a player who loved wearing it for the Cubs more than Ron Santo. And we now know that nobody ever will.