Chicago Cubs: Jumping for joy – literally
During the 1969 season, Santo became known for performing his famous “heel click” after a game on June 22 against the Montreal Expos.
Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Expos were leading 6-3. With one out, Paul Popovich hit a single. Billy Williams followed, hitting another single. Santo grounded out for the second out but moved both runners up to second and third. Ernie Banks singled, driving home both Popovich and Williams, bringing the Cubs within one. The next batter, Jim Hickman, ended the game with a walk-off two-run home run to win the game 7-6.
When Hickman reached home plate, Santo was so excited that he ran down the third base line and hopped three times, clicking his heels with each leap in the air.
The next day, manager Leo Durocher called Santo into his office and asked him to click his heels after each Cubs victory at Wrigley Field in order to motivate the team that was on their way to the National League pennant.
The routine antagonized opposing teams and, by some accounts, put a target on the team’s back. During the September losing streak that collapsed the Cubs’ magical 1969 season, Santo discontinued the heel click routine as critics called it “arrogant” and “overconfidence.”
The Cubs slumped to 8-17 during the final month of the season and The Amazin’ Mets overtook Chicago to win the pennant. They eventually went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series. Despite the disappointing end to the season, Santo regards the 1969 season as the greatest time in his playing career.