Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Is this Santo's year?

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Ron Santo was named one of 10 finalists for the Hall of Fame, and the revamped voting process makes our Cubs reporter Gordon Wittenmyer think this could be Santo's year.

The fact there are 10 finalists instead of a wide-open field should help Santo. He has to show up on 75 percent of the ballots, and the voting won't be as splintered with the narrow field.

Here's Gordon's story:

They sat two booths apart during the Cubs-White Sox game Sunday night at Wrigley Field, the man who would be in the Hall of Fame and the man who would help him get there.

Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo isn't ready to believe this will finally be his year, but if Joe Morgan is right, Santo could be celebrating his greatest personal baseball moment just a few weeks after he hopes to be witnessing his greatest team moment.

That's because changes in this year's veterans committee process might finally lead to Santo's long-awaited call from the Hall.

''I played against him, and when you look at third basemen, he was the best third baseman of his era,'' said Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman and ESPN broadcaster. ''I thought that's the way you judged it. Every year I voted for Maury Wills and Ron Santo. Those are my first two guys. To me, they were both a no-brainer.''

As a member of the Hall's board of directors, Morgan lobbied the last five years for changes to the veterans ballot that should make it easier for somebody to get elected for the first time since 2001.

''Not easier,'' Morgan said. ''Fairer.''

Santo doesn't want to consider whether his chances are stronger, regardless of the changes.

''I can't,'' he said. ''With everything that's gone on [in his Hall of Fame odyssey], you start to wonder if it's an omen.''

Still, he considers the year the Cubs are having.

''This year, win the World Series and I get in the Hall of Fame -- what is there left? It would be wonderful,'' he said. ''I'm just afraid to feel like this is the year because I'd be too disappointed if it isn't. But if we win the World Series, I can overcome that.''

His chances might be better than a Cubs drought-ender.

In recent years, the veterans committee -- essentially the living Hall of Famers -- selected from a filtered ballot of 20 to 25 players, listing as many as 10 on their individual ballots. A player was required to be listed on 75 percent to gain induction.

Santo led all vote-getters in the most recent round of the every-other-year voting but fell five votes short of induction.

This time around, that 20-to-25-man list is used in a preliminary ballot to narrow the final ballot to 10 names. Committee members then vote again, this time selecting up to four from the 10-player list, with the 75 percent criterion in effect.

The process begins in Cooperstown next month when Hall of Famers gather for induction weekend and start screening the larger list.

By the time results are announced in December, Morgan said he believes his committee finally will produce a new member to the Hall. And if that's the case, Santo would have to be the favorite.

''He was the leading vote-getter before,'' Morgan said. ''You would think that he'd get more if the field is narrowed down.''

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I almost think I want this for Santo more than I want the World Series.

Let Santo in NOW into the HOF. What a tragedy for him to endure this suffering!!!!

All of Cubs Nation is pulling for you, Ronnie!

Mr Santos election to the baseball hall of fame is long overdue.

I feel it in my heart that this is definately the year for Ron Santo & the Cubs, they both deserve to make history this year!!!

Ron's induction is long overdue.

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