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The numbers are there for all of them.
Sixteen Gold Glove Awards for Brooks Robinson. Seven-hundred and fifty-five home runs for Hank Aaron. And – now – nine All-Star Games for Ron Santo.
All 296 Hall of Famers have the numbers. But it’s the intangibles – the integrity, the character, the dedication – that brought them to Cooperstown.
“The numbers are there,” said Santo’s Chicago Cubs teammate Billy Williams. “Everybody saw the numbers. But (the Golden Era Committee electors) talked about what he did for the community.”
Robinson and Aaron – just like Williams – were on that Golden Era Committee that elected Santo to the Hall of Fame. And character lessons were not lost on Brooks and Hank.
“I had some talent, but it was my desire that made the difference,” Robinson said. “My love for the game overrode everything else.”
Santo had that same love. So did Aaron, for whom character will always be a defining trait of a Hall of Famer.
“It’s not just the stats that make you a Hall of Famer, but it’s how you carry yourself,” Aaron said. “We owe it to the public and the kids to be examples off the field, not just on it.
“That’s what life is about, not just how much you can accumulate.”
Along the way, however, the character of Hall of Famers like Robinson and Aaron led them to Cooperstown. Now, Santo – whose life touched so many other lives – joins them on the greatest team ever.
Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.