Santo didn't tell the Cubs about his condition for five years, during which time he made the All-Star team three times. Not until five years after that did he tell the public.
There is convincing testimony that a more famous baseball player never revealed that he had the disease while he competed. Jackie Robinson was not only the first black to play in the major leagues, but may also have been the first diabetic.
Robinson and his family always said that he was not diagnosed as a diabetic until after his retirement, but Roy Campanella says otherwise.
"I was Jackie's roommate for a long time before I knew anything about his diabetes, and the other Dodgers never knew," says Campanella. "The only time he talked to me about it was late in his career, when he was considering a knee operation. He said he was afraid 'because I don't think it will heal right, because I have diabetes.' "
Tennis star Bill Talbert, the first famous athlete known to be a diabetic, knew Robinson well, and he believes Robinson developed insulin-dependent diabetes in the early '50s when he was about 30.
"I think Jackie felt it was a weakness," says Talbert. "With all the publicity about blacks in baseball, he didn't want another thing to talk about. His talking was done on the field, and nothing could have been more eloquent."
In general, owners, coaches, players and fans have proved sympathetic to diabetic athletes, as pitcher Gullickson learned in his rookie season with the Expos.
"I hadn't learned how to control my eating yet," says Gullickson. "I brought a sandwich to a game against the Phillies, but I took only one bite. I had a perfect game through three innings, but then I weakened and gave up seven runs.
"The next day I found the rest of the sandwich and a note in front of my locker. A couple of teammates had left a gentle reminder: 'Gully, next time eat a nine-inning sandwich instead of a three-inning sandwich.' "