CHICAGO — Jeff Santo is wearing a special coat for Friday's Game 3 of the World Series.
The black Andrew Marc New York leather coat is the one his famous father, the late, great Cubs third baseman/broadcaster Ron Santo, wore for years.
Jeff Santo will wear the coat for the first time Friday night at Wrigley Field, which will host a World Series game for the first time since 1945.
It's a game Jeff's father had always wanted to play in, but never got the chance, coming closest in 1969 before the Cubs collapsed late in the season. And Santo, who died in 2010, never got to broadcast a Fall Classic game either, coming five outs away in 2003 before the Cubs again fell apart late.
"Everything he wanted in his lifetime, he didn't get to see, but we're seeing it now," Jeff Santo told DNAinfo late Thursday night, about an hour after he arrived in Chicago from his home in Arizona.
Jeff Santo also will be donning a white cap with navy blue lettering reading "10 This Old Cub" in honor of his father's retired jersey number and the documentary film Jeff Santo released in 2004 that highlighted his father's life on the baseball diamond and his determination to overcome diabetes.
He spent much of 2003 following his dad in the Cubs' broadcast booth that season, interviewing players, broadcasters and numerous others to make the film. The experience reminded Jeff Santo of his childhood hanging out in the Cubs' locker room talking to all-time greats Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, and watching the games at Wrigley from the left-field corner.
"We went through all the ups and downs as a family as kids," Jeff Santo said of him, his brother Ron Jr., and sister, Linda. "When they won a game, my dad was the happiest man alive on the ride home [to their Glenview house]. When we lost a game, it was like riding on a funeral on the way back home."
Just getting to the World Series has been enough for Jeff Santo, he said. The pain from those near-misses from 1969 and 2003 — not to mention 1984, 1989, 2007, 2008 and last year — has gone away, he said.
"When they broke the seal, and got into this World Series, that did it all," Jeff Santo said. "Whether they win or lose, they're there. To me that whole curse and all the negative talk that they'll never get there, well they're there now."
In August, Jeff Santo attended two games at Wrigley, which also hosted a Pearl Jam concert. Jeff and his siblings were invited by Eddie Vedder to sing with him on stage during that concert.
"That was a magical time for us," Jeff Santo said.
He provided the same description for this year's Cubs team. Santo has watched every game, amazed by how many people are still wearing No. 10 Cubs uniforms or hats or T-shirts. He smiles when he sees people standing in front of his father's statue outside of Wrigley.
If Ron Santo had been alive this year, his son said he'd be beyond ecstatic.
"He would be there, like a player, in the locker room, pouring champagne, celebrating," Jeff Santo said. "My dad would be just right there, taking in every moment, just like we are from afar."
"This Old Cub" was recently re-released with additional content. For more information, click here.
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