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Average: 3.85%
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Total Crap: 7.69%

1 review, 20 user ratings

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This Old Cub
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by Erik Childress

"This Number 10 Truly Goes To 11"
5 stars

Some of the most emotional moments of my life have centered around the game of baseball. Playing little league and hitting my first double, seeing Field of Dreams for the first time with my dad or the rollercoaster of the 2003 Chicago Cubs season. It was with unkempt anticipation that I awaited the release of Jeff Santoís documentary about his father, legendary Cubbie Ron Santo. My list is just a drop in the bucket.

Reviewing a subject matter as close to my heart as the Chicago Cubs, itís easy to get wrapped up in the moment; affected by information I already knew that to others may seem trivial since itís not their hometown team. (We get tired of hearing about the Red Sox woes in this city, too.) Coming at it objectively is hard to do when the ocular waterworks appear even if youíre not sure why. But somewhere in-between, taking it in as a casual observer, This Old Cub is one of the most informative, inspirational and moving documentaries Iíve ever seen.

Santoís almost historical exclusion from election into baseballís Hall of Fame is matched only by his struggles with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. In the days when media didnít intrude into every aspect of celebrity life, Ron Santo was able to keep his condition out of the spotlight and still manage to put up some of the greatest stats a third baseman ever accumulated. One classic story documents an attack he suffered in the on-deck circle. He walked up to the plate seeing three of everything, swung at the first ball and tattooed a grand slam over the center field wall. Thatís the kind of player he was.

The last few years of his life have been in the on-deck circle, as the disease forced the amputation of both his legs and sent him into extensive rehibilatation learning to walk again. Jeff Santo intimately captures his father's best and worst days on camera and some of the filmís best moments put olí number 10 far away from baseball and the days when he used to click his heels after a win. As someone whose grandfather lost both legs in WWII, the nearly unbroken segment showing Ronís morning travails to get out of bed struck a personal chord that was uneasy to shake.

But Santoís present days arenít all about heartbreak and toil. This is a man who still loves the game, loves his Cubs and, most importantly, loves life through all the obstacles. Whether playing with his grandson or attending the annual Cubs fantasy camp, Santoís spirit is always on the rise and the Chicago fans catch it like a cold without a cure.

This Old Cub canít help but get sidetracked by some of the great stories in Santoís life. His fabled 1969 Cub team almost delves into its own documentary. But as the film goes on and impartial viewers start seeing it as a puff piece to get Santo into Cooperstown, it successfully shifts beyond statistical recognition to his contributions for Diabetes research or his on-air relationship with fellow WGN broadcaster, Pat Hughes (widely considered one of the best on radio.) One of the filmís greatest strengths is how much information itís able to pack into its 86 minutes.

Consider that the Chicago Cubs have had 99 different third basemen since Santo ended his career with them in 1973. That alone shows what he meant to the team that elected him captain. Listen to those camp wannabes and Chicago actors talk about Santo (and watch Bill Murray uncannily imitate his swing) and you know what he meant to those growing up in this city. Experience the immortal radio clip when Brant Brown dropped that fly ball in í98 and the current fansí love for the everyman quality he brings to the radio booth becomes clear. Ask the 11-year old diabetes sufferer whom Ron spent time with or those who benefit from his annual Walk To Cure Diabetes about him. It would probably be enough to fill 20 documentaries.

In the interest of satisfying both sides, it could have been beneficial to find someone who didnít think Santo belonged in the hall of fame. But I donít know if you would be able to find one. The numbers donít lie and no one is trying to use his affliction as an excuse. If they were, Ron would shoot Ďem down. In turn, This Old Cub doesnít bring you in for your sympathies nor does it saccharine it up for you to cry on cue. I watched the film finding my eyes welling up at various moments that didnít even require tears. Maybe it was my love for the game of baseball or vicariously reliving some of those past memories. It could have even been that Chicago cold coming over me; the one that starts with people like good olí number 10. If you have to live vicariously, there are probably few people better to do it through. Because hometown bias aside, Ron Santo is in the hall-of-fame of life.

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originally posted: 03/28/04 06:32:03
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User Comments

3/14/15 homer4president i hate this 1 stars
10/25/13 Sherry M Inspiring movie for all~especially for those dealing with adversity. A must see 5 stars
9/19/10 Marty As Boring as watching baseball! 1 stars
12/18/07 Jack Sommersby Probably the single best documentary ever made. 5 stars 5 stars
12/14/06 joe bob it was ok but it was a documentary and very "schooly" 3 stars
9/17/05 Phil M. Aficionado You don't love the flick, you don't know Ron; you don't love Ron, find another planet 5 stars
3/24/05 Go Illini Excluding Santo from the Hall is a travesty 5 stars
2/10/05 Alex Superb 5 stars
12/28/04 Suzy Evans Could not be better: the Cub history, #10's personal story, JDRF advocacy. Awesome. 5 stars
10/27/04 Sean Sheridan Growing up in Chicago, Ron Santo was my favorite baseball player. I enjoyed the movie 4 stars
8/29/04 southside ed i am not a cubs fan, but ron santo has always been on of my favorite players. he is a hero 5 stars
6/30/04 Randy Inman What a documentary should be!!! 5 stars
6/06/04 Gail Wonderful film 5 stars
4/27/04 Amerigo Vespukey Who doesn't love Ron Santo? He's the sober Harry Caray. 5 stars
4/24/04 Terry Nims Unparelleled 5 stars
4/19/04 Donna Awesome and inspiring and very Chicago 5 stars
4/08/04 Richard Starks a lot fo fun yet emotionally moving 5 stars
4/06/04 Ursula Patch There are not enough words to say how wonderful this movie is. Go see it! 5 stars
4/01/04 Stephen Verhaeren Eberybody go see this movie. 5 stars
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  26-Mar-2004 (NR)
  DVD: 02-Aug-2005



Directed by
  Jeff Santo

Written by
  Jeff Santo
  Tim Comstock

  Ron Santo
  Joe Mantegna
  Bill Murray
  William Petersen
  Dennis Franz
  Gary Sinise

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