"Wrigley Field was his favorite place on Earth," said Pat Hughes, Santo's longtime partner on Cubs radio broadcasts.
Santo died at the age of 70 last Dec. 3 of complications from bladder cancer and diabetes.
The scene around the ceremony was hectic. Fans numbering in the hundreds swarmed around the gated-off area set aside for the service, blocking Sheffield Avenue and two lanes of Addison Street, forcing westbound buses to veer off into oncoming traffic. Other fans watched from the crowded concourses inside the park and from the upper levels of a multistory bar across the street.
At one point during the ceremony, a fire truck, alarm blaring, had to ease through the crowd along Sheffield. At least two people collapsed during the speeches and had to be carted away on stretchers.
Santo was a member of the Cubs organization for the better part of five decades as a player (1960-74) and broadcaster (1990-2010). He hit 337 of his 342 career homers in a Cubs uniform, fourth most in franchise history, despite a decades-long battle with diabetes.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts focused on how Santo touched the lives of many who suffered from juvenile diabetes through his fundraising efforts, which Ricketts estimated at $60 million during his lifetime.
"He connected with all of us because he was our fan," Ricketts said. "He was the beating heart of Chicago Cubs fans everywhere and we'll miss him dearly."
As a broadcaster, Santo was known for unabashedly rooting on his beloved Cubs, a trait that endeared him to thousands who never saw him play.
"I don't think I've met anybody that had the passion Ronnie did," said Cubs manager Mike Quade. "And it was as sincere as the day was long."
Hughes touched upon a long-running gag by joking that the statue would be "one of three things: batting, Ronnie fielding or Ronnie with his hairpiece on fire."
"It's going to be a beautiful statue, though," he said.