The long wait for late Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo is finally over as the 3rd baseman was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Golden Era committee.  Santo, who retired after the 1974 season, was perhaps one of the most integral parts of the Cubs franchise for almost 50 years as a player and broadcaster.  As a player, Santo was a member of the memorable 1969 team that came close to breaking the Cubs World Series drought… if not for that damn black cat.

Here’s the details from Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago

It took 32 years, but former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday with at least 75 percent of the vote from the Golden Era committee.

Santo was the only player elected. He received 15 of 16 votes. Jim Kaat received 10 votes, while Gil Hodges and Minnie Minoso received nine each.

Upon his induction, Santo, who died just over a year ago at age 70, will be the 47th Hall of Famer to have played for the Chicago Cubs.

After an illustrious 15-year major league career and 21 years as a broadcaster on Cubs radio, Santo succumbed to bladder cancer and pneumonia on Dec. 3, 2010.

The long wait for induction into the Hall of Fame had been maddening for Santo and his family. Santo was passed over by the veterans committee in 2003, 2005 and 2008. After that committee, comprised of current Hall of Famers, failed to elect anyone for eight consecutive years, the Hall of Fame changed the election rules.

The Golden Era committee was comprised of 16 individuals, including Hall of Fame players, baseball executives and veteran baseball reporters. Seventy-five percent of the 16 votes was needed for induction (12 or more).

It was as a beloved broadcaster where Santo connected with new generations of Cubs fans.  Yes, Santo was never the most polished announcer, often mistaking game situations or not even coming close to opposing players’ names.  Still, it was his sheer enthusiasm for the Cubbies that bled through every broadcast as evidenced by this clip…

When the Cubs succeeded, the joy in Santo’s voice came through the radio, just as his disapointment did when the team fell short.  In fact, his most memorable broadcasting moment might have been this Brant Brown drop that cost the team a shot at the playoffs.

And even though Santo unfortunately passed away before making the Hall, the bittersweet recognition is better late than never.  Thankfully, the Cubs were able to show Ron Santo how much he meant to the franchise when his number was retired by the team, which Santo called his “Hall of Fame” moment.  And even though Santo may not be around to see it, baseball as a whole has finally given him the recognition he so richly deserves.

[ESPN Chicago]