Famed Chicago Cubs third baseman and diabetes advocate Ron Santo has died at the age of 70. The Washington Post is reporting that Santo, one of the best third basemen in the history of the game, passed away Thursday, Dec. 2 from complications of bladder cancer.
Santo’s Legacy Unaffected by Medical Problems
Santo played most of his baseball career for the Chicago Cubs, serving on their roster from 1960-1973. In 1974, he switched to the White Sox. He began his broadcasting career in 1990. Santo was famous as a broadcaster who openly cheered on his beloved Cubs from the broadcast booth.
Santo suffered from several medical conditions over the years, including heart disease, bladder cancer and diabetes. He was diagnosed with diabetes at age 18. The disease eventually led to both of his legs being amputated. In 2003, Santo penned an article for Guideposts in which he chronicled his experience with diabetes, including how he kept the disease a secret while playing major league baseball.
While Santo was an outspoken advocate for diabetes, he is far from the only famous face to lend his celebrity to educating about the disease.
Mary Tyler Moore Advocates for Diabetes Research and Education
Actress Mary Tyler Moore, famous for her portrayals of the girl next door on shows such as The Dick VanDyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has become perhaps the most famous spokesperson for diabetes. According to USA Today, Moore was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes more than 40 years ago while starring on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Moore serves as the national and international chairwoman for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and has discussed how the disease has affected her publicly on numerous occasions. Her appearance on Larry King Live in July of 2010 was especially memorable. King himself suffers from Type 2 diabetes.
In April 2010, Moore’s book Growing Up Again shone the public spotlight again on diabetes. The book chronicles Moore’s personal account of life with the disease: Her struggles, lessons learned and triumph in light of recent diabetes-related complications. In recent years, Moore has suffered diabetes-related nerve damage and vision loss, necessitating her to give up driving and other favorite activities.
Nick Jonas Becomes the Public Face of Teen Diabetes
Nick Jonas has become the face of tween and teen diabetes. According to FOX News, Jonas, a member of the popular music group The Jonas Brothers, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2005 at age 13. Jonas officially went public with his diagnosis in 2007 when he spoke at the Diabetes Research Institute’s Carnival for a Cure fundraising event in New York.
Since that time, Jonas has spoken on numerous TV programs and shared his personal story with magazines like Diabetes Health and Good Housekeeping. In 2008, Jonas launched a diabetes awareness campaign for tweens and teens through the Jonas brothers’ foundation Change for the Children. Partnering with Bayer HealthCare, Jonas has become the most outspoken teen example of living and thriving with diabetes.
Jonas is clear on his newfound mission. In an interview with Fox and Friends he explained, “It is hard, but I’ve always had it in my heart to be an inspiration and a positive voice of encouragement. So the first time I heard someone say ‘thanks for sharing,’ I thought if I can use this as an opportunity to inspire people, then it’s all worth it.”
Santo’s Legacy as Diabetes Advocate
History will certainly remember Santo as an exceptional athlete and a brilliant broadcaster. But he will also be remembered as a brave man who weathered the storm of diabetes with dignity. His example of living a full and active life with diabetes will stand for decades to come. The Ron Santo Walk to Cure Diabetes, held annually to raise money for research, will no doubt continue to help others suffering from diabetes learn, live and hope. As USA Today reported, Santo himself understood how important his advocacy was.
“It’s funny. I always thought I’d make my biggest mark as a ballplayer, but it was after I started speaking up about diabetes that I really made a difference,” Santo wrote.
Fiore, Marrecca, “Nick Jonas Launches Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Campaign,” FOX News.
“Jonas Brothers Band Member Reveals He Has Diabetes at Diabetes Research Institute Fundraiser,” Children with Diabetes.
Marcus, Mary Brophy, “Mary Tyler Moore tells how she took control of diabetes,” USA Today.
“Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes,” Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Boren, Cindy, “Ron Santo, legendary Chicago Cubs third baseman, dies at 70,” The Washington Post.
Weir, Tom, “Ron Santo’s battle with diabetes, in his own words,” USA Today.