I liked Ron Santo, too, because I was a Cubs fan. Went to college in Chicago, where I discovered that the Cubs were the Washington Senators of the National League. Early in the 1967 season the Cubs looked good, looked very good, and we were hopeful, giddy.
Then the Cubs went down to St Louis and lost a series to the Cards, came home and lost another. It seemed like Bob Gibson pitched every game, although maybe Steve Carelton and Nelson Briles (? this is from painful memory) kicked in some innings. [In trurth, you could take the 1967 Gibson and the 2008 Nats pitching and be competitive.).
It seemed like every game, around the sixth or seventh inning, down a run or two, Kessinger led off by grounding out weakly. Glen Beckert would get a hit, Bily Williams would do something spectacular, old Ernie banks would line a double to right center, and we would wait for Santo win it. And good old Ron Santo would pop out. Randy Hundley would strike out, and the Cubs would lose.
So...speaking as a former part-time Cubs fan, I can understand why Cubs fans would have pushed Santo for the HoF sooner if the team had won something. It always came back to the Cardinals, and Curt Flood and Roger Maris, who was a tough ballplayer...not the HR champ, but a guy who won games. I think St Louis also had Orlando Cepeda, another good player who came through in the crunch. We cheered for Santo, and then sagged.