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Ryne Sandberg

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Ryne Sandberg

A photo of Ryne Sandberg.

Ryne Dee Sandberg (born September 18, 1959 in Spokane, Washington), nicknamed "Ryno", is a former second baseman in Major League Baseball who spent nearly his entire career with the Chicago Cubs. He was named after relief pitcher Ryne Duren, and is recognized as one of the best second basemen of all time. Sandberg was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 2005; he was formally inducted in ceremonies on July 31, 2005. He is the current manager of the Peoria Chiefs.

Sandberg established himself as a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove candidate, making 10 consecutive All-Star appearances and winning 9 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1983 to 1991. His career .989 fielding percentage is a major league record at second base.

Philadelphia PhilliesEdit

Sandberg was drafted in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He went on to make his major league debut as a shortstop for the Phillies in 1981.

However, the Phillies didn't have much room in the lineup for him at the time. The Phillies didn't think he could play shortstop, and he was blocked from second and third base by Manny Trillo and Mike Schmidt, respectively. Accordingly, he was traded along with shortstop Larry Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus prior to the 1982 season. The trade, now considered one of the most one-sided deals in baseball history, came about because Bowa had antagonized the Phillies' front office. However, Cubs general manager Dallas Green (a former Phillies manager) wanted a young prospect to go along with the aging Bowa.

Years later, Phillies general manager Paul Owens said that he didn't want to trade Sandberg, but Green and the Cubs weren't interested in any of the other prospects he offered. Owens then went back to his scouts, who told him Sandberg wouldn't be any more than a utility infielder. However, Sandberg had hit over .290 in the minors two years in a row.

Chicago CubsEdit

The Cubs, who initially wanted Sandberg to play center field, installed him as their third baseman, and he went on to be one of the top-rated rookies of 1982. However, Sandberg was displaced by Chicago's trade for veteran Ron Cey following the 1982 season, so Sandberg moved to second base, where he became a star.

1984Edit

After winning a Gold Glove Award in his first season at the new position, Sandberg emerged with a breakout season in 1984, in which he batted .314 with 200 hits, 114 runs, 36 doubles, 19 homers and triples, and 84 RBI. He nearly became only the third player to collect 20 doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases in the same season, led the Cubs to the National League's Eastern Division title (their first championship of any kind since 1945), and won National League Most Valuable Player honors.

After his great season in which he garnered national attention, he wrote an autobiography "Ryno" with Fred Mitchell.

"The Sandberg Game"Edit

One game in particular was cited for putting Sandberg (as well as the 1984 Cubs in general) "on the map", a NBC national telecast of a Cubs-Cardinals game on June 23, 1984. The Cubs had been playing well throughout the season's first few months, but as a team unaccustomed to winning, they had not yet become a serious contender in the eyes of most baseball fans.

As for Sandberg, he had played two full seasons in the major leagues, and while he had shown himself to be a top-fielding second baseman and fast on the basepaths (over 30 stolen bases both seasons), his .260-ish batting average and single-digit home run production were respectable for his position but not especially noteworthy, and Sandberg was not talked about outside Chicago. The Game of the Week, however, put the sleeper Cubs on the national stage against their regional rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams were well-established franchises with a strong fan base outside the Chicago and St. Louis area.

In the ninth inning, the Cubs trailed 9-8, and faced the premier relief pitcher of the time, Bruce Sutter. Sutter was at the forefront of the emergence of the closer in the late 1970s and early 1980s: a hard-throwing pitcher who typically came in just for the ninth inning and saved around 30 games a season. (Sutter was especially dominant in 1984, saving 45 games.) However, in the ninth inning, Sandberg, not known for his power, slugged a home run to left field against the Cardinals' ace closer. Despite this dramatic act, the Cardinals scored two runs in the top of the tenth. Sandberg came up again in the tenth inning, facing a determined Sutter with one man on base. As Cubs' radio announcer Harry Caray described it:

There's a drive, way back! Might be outta here! It is! It is! He did it again! He did it again! The game is tied! The game is tied! Holy Cow! Listen to this crowd, everybody's gone bananas!

The Cubs went on to win in the 11th inning. The Cardinals' Willie McGee had already been named NBC's player of the game before Sandberg's first home run. As NBC play-by-play man Bob Costas (who called the game with Tony Kubek) said when Sandberg hit that second home run, "Do you believe it?!" The game is sometimes called The Sandberg Game. The winning run for the Cubs was driven in by a single off of the bat of Dave Owen.

1990Edit

In 1990, Sandberg led the National League in home runs – a rarity for a second baseman – with 40. Sandberg was only the third second baseman to hit 40 home runs; Rogers Hornsby and Davey Johnson hit 42, and no American League second baseman has yet reached forty. Sandberg also batted in 100 runs, despite batting second in the order. His batting average did not suffer from his new level of power, as he finished at .306 for the season. Sandberg, Brady Anderson and Barry Bonds are the only players to have both a 40-homer (1990) and 50-steal (1985) season during their careers. Sandberg played a major league-record 123 straight games at second base without an error. This has since been broken by Plácido Polanco of the Detroit Tigers.

1992Edit

In 1992, Sandberg became the highest paid player in baseball at the time, signing a $28.4 million four year extension worth $7.1 million a season. He earned a spot on the NL All Star roster and an NL Silver Slugger Award at second base with a .304 batting average, 26 home runs, 100 runs, and 87 runs batted in.

1994Edit

After struggling early in the season, Sandberg retired in 1994. While he had been a historically slow starter throughout his entire career, his 1994 start was slower than normal. In his book, Second To Home, Sandberg said,

The reason I retired is simple: I lost the desire that got me ready to play on an everyday basis for so many years. Without it, I didn't think I could perform at the same level I had in the past, and I didn't want to play at a level less than what was expected of me by my teammates, coaches, ownership, and most of all, myself.
He also said in the book that at the time of his retirement, to the best of his knowledge, everything was fine with his marriage and that he wanted to be at home with his kids.

1996-1997Edit

He came back for the 1996 and 1997 seasons, retiring again with a career batting average of .285, and a record 277 home runs as a second baseman; this record was surpassed in 2004 by Jeff Kent.

Post-baseball activitiesEdit

Since retiring, Sandberg has kept a low profile. In 2003, Sandberg accepted his first marketing deal since his retirement, agreeing to be spokesman for a Chicago bank. He also appeared on ESPN Radio 1000 as an analyst during the 2004 baseball season. He currently serves as manager of the Peoria Chiefs and formerly served as a spring training instructor for the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona. He is also a former baseball columnist for Yahoo Sports.

Hall of Fame induction

Sandberg delivered what many traditionalist fans considered a stirring speech at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2005.<img data-rte-meta="%7B%22type%22%3A%22ext%22%2C%22placeholder%22%3A1%2C%22wikitext%22%3A%22%3Cref%3ERyne%20Sandberg%27s%20Hall%20of%20Fame%20induction%20speech%2C%2031%20July%202005%2C%20transcript%20available%20at%20http%3A%5C%2F%5C%2Fwww.cubsnet.com%5C%2Fnode%5C%2F526%3C%5C%2Fref%3E%22%7D" data-rte-instance="560-14460203194e9cf7b9196f1" class="placeholder placeholder-ext" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIABAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAEALAAAAAABAAEAQAICTAEAOw%3D%3D" type="ext" /> He thanked the writers who voted for him because it meant that he played the game the way he had been taught it should be played. He spoke several times of respect for the game, and chided a subset of current players who, in his opinion, lack that respect. Specifically, he spoke of how the game needs more than home run hitters, citing that turning a double-play and laying down a sacrifice bunt are weapons many of today's greats don't value.

Sandberg's number is retiredEdit

He followed up on his Hall of Fame induction by becoming only the fourth Chicago Cub to have his number retired. The others have been Ernie Banks (#14), Billy Williams (#26) and Ron Santo (#10).

On August 28, 2005, Sandberg had his number 23 retired in a ceremony at Wrigley Field, before a Cubs game against the Florida Marlins. His number had already been de facto retired, as no other Cub had been assigned the number since Sandberg's active playing days had ended. In his capacity as a Cubs spring training instructor and as the Peoria Chiefs manager, Sandberg still wears his uniform number 23.

Coincidentally, 23 has also been retired for another prominent Chicago sports figure from the 1980s and 1990s, Michael Jordan.

Charity foundationsEdit

Sandberg and his wife, Margaret, founded Ryno Kid Care to assist in the lives of children with serious illnesses. The organization provides anything from big brothers to a home-cooked meal. Ryno Kid Care also provides massage therapists and clowns dressed up as doctors and nurses to brighten the children's day.

Ryno Kid Care's mission is "dedicated to enhancing the lives of children with serious medical conditions and their families, by providing supportive, compassionate and meaningful programming."

Other infoEdit

His nephew, Jared Sandberg, was a third baseman for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

His last game at Wrigley Field on September 21, 1997 was also the last game during which Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray would perform "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch, as Caray died the following offseason.

In high school, Sandberg was recruited to play quarterback at NCAA Division 1 colleges, and eventually signed a letter of intent for Washington State University. However, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and chose to turn professional in baseball.[1]

Sandberg also lobbied to be the Cubs' new manager after the 2006 season. General Manager Jim Hendry thought Sandberg wanted to just have dinner when Sandberg called him; unbeknownst to Hendry, it was an interview for the job. Sandberg was a long shot, and the Cubs ended up hiring Lou Piniella, but Hendry hinted at perhaps hiring Sandberg for one of the Cubs' minor league affiliates. This was realized on December 5, 2006, when Sandberg was named manager of the Cubs' Class A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League, replacing former 1984 Cub teammate Jody Davis.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Blanchette, John. "An Early Star Quality," The Spokesman-Review.com. Available at http://www.spokesmanreview.com/sections/sandberg/story.asp?ID=early_years

External linksEdit

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Awards and achievements
Preceded by:
Hubie Brooks
Topps Rookie All-Star Third Baseman
1982
Succeeded by:
Nick Esasky
Preceded by:
Dale Murphy
National League Most Valuable Player
1984
Succeeded by:
Willie McGee
Preceded by:
Leon Durham
Andre Dawson
National League Player of the Month
June 1984
June 1990
Succeeded by:
José Cruz
Barry Bonds
Preceded by:
Eric Davis
Home Run Derby Champion
1990
Succeeded by:
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Preceded by:
Kevin Mitchell
National League Home Run Champion
1990
Succeeded by:
Howard Johnson

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