This Old Cub

This Old Cub is nothing but a fluff piece for Chicago Cub Ron Santo.  Is this a bad thing?  Absolutely not.  His son, Jeff Santo (Liar's Poker) wrote and directed this loving tribute towards his father.  It often comes off more as a pitch to get Santo into the Hall of Fame, or as an awareness campaign for juvenile diabetes, but nobody can say that either of these goals are bad.  What is immediately clear, and what will attract viewers, is Santo's personality.  He is a genuinely nice guy.  He loves baseball, loves the Cubs, and loves the fans.  And they clearly love him back.  The primary reason is that people can relate to him.  Santo grew up a Cubs fan.  It was genetically ingrained into him.  He spoke like a normal guy, and looked like a normal guy.

There was one huge thing that set him apart.  Santo played for fourteen years with Type One Juvenile Diabetes.  That's not a big deal now, but for his Major League career (1960-1974), he did not have the technology that people have today.  He had to self-regulate his insulin level without the aid of any medical devices, so he would simply eat a candy bar or a snack when he felt he was getting too low.  Even more impressive was his performance, including missing less than twenty games during all of the 1960s.  Many consider him one of the game's greatest third basemen ever, and it confounds them why he is not yet in the Hall of Fame.

A cavalcade of fans line up to tell what they love about Santo.  Actors Bill Murray, Dennis Franz, William Petersen, Gary Sinise, and players Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, and others all give honest, joyous testimonials about Santo's playing ability and about what a great all-around guy he is.  The one huge drawback of This Old Cub is that while Santo (who became a broadcaster for the Cubs after his retirement) is a household name in Chicago, he may not be well known outside the circles of baseball fandom.  Even after watching this film, yes, Santo is a nice guy, but do people really learn anything substantial about him?

Santo (the director) does a good job going in depth with his father's childhood and early baseball career.  Then, This Old Cub seems to jump around erratically, talking about diabetes, Santos' attempts to get into the Hall of Fame, and some other random topics intercut with many interviews.  Late in his life, due to complications surrounding his condition, doctors amputated both of Santos' legs.  The film fails to relay the depth of what Santos must have gone though.  So overall, This Old Cub is a decent film, but it could be much better.  As it stands, it's a great film primarily for fans.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour 26 minutes, Not Rated, but easily a PG, possibly a G.

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