(Reuters) - Former Chicago Cubs third baseman and broadcaster Ron Santo, who overcame debilitating effects of diabetes to inspire others, was elected posthumously to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday.
Nine-time All Star Santo belted 342 home runs and won five Gold Glove awards during a 15-year Major League Baseball career, and became a beloved Cubs broadcaster after his playing days.
Santo, who died last December at 70 from complications of bladder cancer, received 15 votes from a 16-member Golden Era Committee charged with honoring overlooked players and executives from 1947-72.
"As a star player and a beloved broadcaster, Ron was a staple of the Cubs' experience every single day for decades, representing all the goodwill of both the franchise and the game he loved," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
"I always admired Ron's courage and loyalty, and I miss him very much. Today, I am so proud to know that his contributions to baseball will receive the highest honor."
Falling short of the 12 votes (75 percent) needed for election, were Jim Kaat with 10 votes, Gil Hodges and Minnie Minoso with nine each, and Tony Oliva with eight.
Santo, who played from 1960-1973 with the Cubs before spending his last season with the cross-town Chicago White Sox, will be inducted during next year's ceremony in Cooperstown, New York, on July 22.
After his playing career, he spent two decades as a Cubs broadcaster from 1990 to 2010, rooting openly for the team as one of its most animated supporters.
"Such an honor for Ron," Santo's widow Vicki said in a conference call with reporters. "It was always so important to Ron and such a long time coming."
Santo, who lost both legs to diabetes, became the fourth member of the Cubs teams from the 1960s and '70s to enter the Hall, joining team mates Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins.
Williams, a member of the committee that elected Santo, said the discussion before Sunday's vote went beyond Santo's on-field performance.
"We're measured by what we do on the baseball field, and sometimes we're measured by what we do off the baseball field," Williams said. "With Santo, he was a broadcaster, he really built up the game of baseball ... and he raised more than $60 million for Juvenile Diabetes."
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts also saluted Santo, particularly his impact as a broadcaster.
"He was the beating heart of Cubs fans," said Ricketts. "As an athlete, he was our All-Star. As a radio analyst, he carried our passion. For those battling illness or disease, he remains an inspiration."
Also on the 10-man Golden Era ballot but receiving fewer than three votes were Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Allie Reynolds and Luis Tiant.
(Writing by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Frank Pingue)