UPDATE: WGN Radio producer Matt Boltz has finally uploaded the promised photo of Ron’s new ‘do — check it out in the top photo. I don’t know; it looks pretty much the same to me. The shirt, on the other hand; let’s just say that the paisley inside the sleeve cuffs is … different. There’s a better image of it on Boltzy’s Blog — check it out and let me know what you think.
… Or at least why this Cub fan loves Santo. I know some fans get frustrated during his color analyst gig for Cubs games on WGN Radio, the way he lets his emotions get the better of him whenever the Cubs do something particularly horrid or particularly wonderful. (“Oh, GEEZ!” is his standard bad-play riff; “Yes, SIR!” is the response to a good play.) But the way Ronnie wears his heart on his sleeve is what I love most about him. You always know what he thinks and what he feels about what has been his team since 1960. And this season, as the Cubs just keep winning, he has been a joy to listen to.
But that’s not what I wanted to write about. Beyond his obvious love for the Cubs and the way he reflects every fan’s emotions throughout a game broadcast, I love the way Santo and radio play-by-play guy Pat Hughes interact. They have great chemistry together, and blowout games often devolve into a series of bad jokes, puns, and good-natured ribbing about Pat’s tightwad nature and Ron’s personal idiosyncrasies, of which there are many.
Maybe because they have been apart for a week (Santo stayed home for the Cubs’ recent road trip), Pat and Ron were in rare form Tuesday night. The bottom of the first inning was one long hilarious riff on Santo’s new look, which apparently consists of a new purple striped shirt and a new toupee (or, as Santo calls it, his “piece”). As far as I can gather from their on-air descriptions, the toupee is dangerously mullet-like (although neither Ron nor Pat used that terminology). Pat did reference Rod Stewart, however, and Ron was quick to point out, “But his is blond — and real. Well, this is real hair, too. It’s just not my hair.” (The bottom picture, by the way, is from 2006 and shows Ron’s “old” hair.)
This isn’t the first time Ron and Pat have talked about Santo’s toupee. My sides still ache from laughing hysterically during a game in 2002 when I first heard the now-classic story about the time Ron’s hairpiece caught fire while broadcasting a game. And I’ve heard him carefully explain the difference between his “everyday” piece and his “gamer,” which is reserved for public appearances. Like I said, that’s what I love about him — Ron Santo’s hair is the only fake thing about him.