This Date in Cubs History: Ron Santo makes his big league debut

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

When you’re a fan of a team like the Chicago Cubs, an organization with more than a century of rich history, pretty much every day of the calendar year carries some historical significance. Today, June 26, is certainly no exception. On this date back in 1960, a young infielder made his major league debut. His name? Ron Santo.

Of course, whenever we talk about Santo now it’s as a Hall of Famer. But that career started with a single game – well, actually, a pair of games in the form of a doubleheader at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

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Santo batted sixth in the opener, collecting his first two big league hits and driving in three in what wound up being a 7-6 Cubs victory. One of those two knocks was a double, another first for the Seattle, WA native. In the night cap, it was another strong showing for the infielder, driving in another pair of runs as the North Siders completed the sweep of the twin bill.

Even after the pair of victories, Chicago sat at just 25-37 on the season. The club finished the year 60-94-2 under managers Charlie Grimm and Lou Boudreau – good for seventh in the National League.

By season’s end, Santo was the 10th-most valuable man on the Cubs roster, accumulating 0.9 WAR. He actually finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting for his performance, hitting .251/.311/.409 with 24 doubles and a 97 OPS+. Of course, that club was headlined by another future Hall of Famer in Ernie Banks, who was coming off his back-to-back MVPs and wound up finishing fourth in NL MVP voting.

Chicago Cubs: Ron Santo was beginning the start of an illustrious career

By the time Santo hung up his spikes, he’d cemented his place as not just a Cubs legend, but one of the greatest first basemen of all-time. He brought home five Gold Gloves and earned nine All-Star selections, also finishing in the top five of MVP voting twice.

He clubbed 342 home runs, 337 of which came with the Cubs – the fourth-most of any player in franchise history. Everyone remembers home runs – but his work with the glove was equally, if not more impressive than what he did at the dish. Here’s what the National Baseball Hall of Fame has to say:

"Defensively, Santo led all NL third basemen in putouts seven times, assists seven times and total chances nine times – and retired with NL records for most assists in a season by a third baseman, most double plays by a third baseman in a career and most chances accepted at third base."

dark. Next. Where does Santo rank among all-time Cubs greats?

As someone who grew up with Santo as a broadcaster, it’s always a treat to go back and reflect on just how incredible of a player he was for years and years. On this date, way back in 1960, it all started with – how fitting – a doubleheader.