50 Years Since Ron Santo's Trade: Remembering a Chicago Cubs Legend

The move kept the beloved third baseman from finishing his big league career with the North Siders.

Ron Santo Wrigley Field
Ron Santo Wrigley Field / Transcendental Graphics/GettyImages

Ron Santo embodied the Chicago Cubs in a way that few others have - with the most obvious exception being Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks. But that didn't keep the team from trading him to the crosstown rival White Sox ahead of the 1974 season, a move that prevented Santo from spending his entire career with the Cubs.

Today, Dec. 11, marks 50 years since the trade that sent Santo to the South Side in exchange for Ken Frailing, Steve Swisher, a player to be named later and, funnily enough, pitcher and future Cubs and White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone.

Santo was coming off a third consecutive All-Star appearance in 1973, and had just used his 10-and-5 rights to shut down a proposed trade that would have sent him to the Angels. The Cubs then worked out this trade with the Sox that allowed Santo to at least stay in Chicago - but he hung up his spikes at the end of that '74 campaign after a lone season with the White Sox.

The move aligned with a sell-off in Wrigleyville, as the Cubs embarked on a rebuilding effort after a fifth-place finish. Going to the South Side allowed Santo to close out his career in a city he ate, slept and breathed for so many years.

Cubs legend Ron Santo built a lasting legacy on the North Side

A five-time Gold Glover and nine-time All-Star in his career (the Silver Slugger award didn't exist in its current form until 1980, six years after Santo retired) - the legendary third baseman was a staple at the hot corner for the Cubs for more than a decade, all while quietly battling the effects of diabetes.

Santo's 72.1 bWAR ranks second in franchise history, trailing only Cap Anson, and he played over 2,100 games in a Cubs uniform. Over 14 seasons, he hit more than 335 home runs while calling Wrigley Field home and his unbridled passion for the game carried on long after his playing days wrapped up, when he became known to a new generation of Cubs fans as a staple in the radio booth.

If there was ever anyone who deserved to finish his career with Chicago, it was Santo - but that's just not how it played out. Being on the receiving end of tough luck was a constant theme in the Hall of Famer's life - but he never let it get him down and remains an all-time legend in the hearts and minds of Cubs fans of every generation.