Ron Santo nearing Hall entry?

On the one year anniversary of Ron Santo’s death, his family may have something to feel good about come Monday morning. According to industry sources, Santo’s chances of gaining entry into baseball’s Hall of Fame appear “excellent.”

The Golden Era Committee, a newly founded wing of the Veterans Committee, is voting on 10 different candidates nominated to the ballot. The committee is meeting over the weekend in Dallas to debate the merits then vote on each of the former players.

The Hall of Fame has changed the structure of voting players not elected by the Baseball Writers of America during their 15 years of eligibility into Cooperstown. The new format has 16 voters, including Hall of Fame members Billy Williams, Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, and Brooks Robinson as part of the electorate. The group also features former executives and writers.

A candidate must receive 12 of 16 votes to gain entry.

The Golden Era votes on managers, umpires, executives and players whose most significant career impact occurred between 1947-1972. The committee votes every three years.

“Ronnie has a lot of support this time around,” said a major league source who has been working behind the scenes on Santo’s behalf. “Everything looks good for his election.”

The change in voting procedures can only help Santo and other Golden Era candidates this time around.

From 2003-2007, only living members of the Hall of Fame comprised the Veterans Committee, which was charged with voting on the eligibility of candidates who weren’t elected by the baseball writers. Three votes were taken during that time (2003, 2005 and 2007) without any candidate getting elected.

Frustrated with the process, the Hall changed the procedure of voting after its 2007 vote.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has been among the most vocal candidates of Santo’s candidacy, campaigning rigorously to get the team’s iconic third baseman into Cooperstown.

“They meet this weekend,” Ricketts said on ESPN 1000’s “Talkin’ Baseball” on Saturday. “We’ve created a lot of information and sent it out to everyone [on the committee]. Billy Williams is on the committee. He’s been focused on making everyone aware of Ron’s situation. It was one year ago today that Ron passed away. We hope they will really focus hard on Ron this time around.”

During his 15 years of initial eligibility through the Baseball Writers of America, Santo’s highest vote total was 43.1 percent in 1998. A candidate needs 75 percent of votes to gain entry. In 2007 under the previous Veterans Committee setup, Santo received 39 votes from the 64-member panel (61 percent) again falling short of the 75 percent needed. His non-qualifying total in 2007 was the highest of any candidate voted on by the committee.

Santo’s career spanned from 1960-74. He spent all but his final season with the Cubs. Santo hit 342 home runs, batting .277 with 1,331 RBIs. Santo was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner.

After finishing his baseball career, Santo went into the private business for 16 years. In 1990, Santo became the Cubs radio color commentator. He held that position for 21 years until his death last year.