Santo had called Wrigley Field his Hall of Fame when the team retired his No. 10. Now, the family and his large legion of Cubs fans can celebrate the third baseman and the passionate and generous man in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"This is a great day for baseball and for Cubs fans everywhere," said Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. "I am thrilled that the memory of my dear friend Ron Santo will be preserved forever in the halls of Cooperstown. As a star player and a beloved broadcaster, Ron was a staple of the Cubs' experience every single day for decades, representing all the goodwill of both the franchise and the game he loved.
"I always admired Ron's courage and loyalty, and I miss him very much," Selig said. "Today, I am so proud to know that his contributions to baseball will receive the highest honor. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Ron's wife Vicki, their four children and their grandchildren."
Jeff Santo's movie included a segment on when his father was first considered for the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, and also showed his disappointment in not getting the call. Santo had failed to make it to Cooperstown in his 15 years of eligibility on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot and also in numerous forms of the Veterans Committee prior to Monday.
He missed by nine votes in a 2008 ballot of a post-1943 committee, and his highest vote total on the BBWAA ballot was 43.1 percent in 1998.
On Monday, it was nothing but joy.
"I'm just so proud of him," son Ron Jr. said. "It's been a long time coming."
A 75-percent vote was needed in the Golden Era process, which, in this case, was 12 votes. Santo received 15 of 16 votes cast.
Billy Williams, a Hall of Famer and Santo's longtime teammate, said the committee considered more than just a player's statistics, but also what they did off the field. Santo has raised more than $60 million for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
"He took a lot of pride in that," Ron Jr. said.
"He's been a great ambassador of baseball," Jeff said.
Santo's daughter, Linda, said she didn't consider the honor bittersweet since it comes nearly a year to the day since her father died. Santo was 70 when he passed on Dec. 3, 2010.
"He'd just be happy having the recognition," Linda said, adding her sons now have a place to go and celebrate their grandfather's life.
"This means a lot to a lot of Cubs fans," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. "It was always a missing piece of the puzzle in Cubs history."
Ricketts said the team would likely have special events throughout the season to celebrate leading up to Santo's induction on July 22.
"On the field, he was a complete player, and off the field, he was a complete person," Ricketts said. "It's a wonderful day here at Wrigley."