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He found comfort at the ballpark, a respite from his various ailments, and he once said his association with the team probably prolonged his life _ just not long enough to see the Cubs win the World Series. That hasn’t happened since 1908, and they last captured the pennant in 1945, when Santo was 5.

As painful as all the losses were for Santo, so was the Hall of Fame exclusion. In 2003, the Cubs hoisted his retired No. 10 up the left-field foul pole, just below Banks‘ No. 14, and he said then that it meant more to him than the Hall of Fame.

“With the adversity that I have been through if it wasn’t for all of you, I wouldn’t be standing here right now,” he told the cheering crowd at Wrigley that day.

Mayall, the monsignor, said Cubs fans “breathe hope” and Santo was part of that.

Ron was the voice of the Cubs, but he was also the voice of hope. … Ron was the poster boy for hope,” he said. “If you think we miss him now, wait until we turn on the radio for that first pitch in March.”