Sandberg in 1990
|Second baseman / Manager|
|Born: September 18, 1959|
|September 2, 1981, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 28, 1997, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Runs batted in||1,061|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
|Vote||76.2% (third ballot)|
Ryne Dee Sandberg (born September 18, 1959), nicknamed "Ryno", is an American former professional baseball player, coach, and manager. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs for 16 years (1981-1994, 1996-1997).
Sandberg established himself as a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove candidate, making 10 consecutive All-Star appearances and winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves from 1983 to 1991. His career .989 fielding percentage was a major-league record at second base when he retired in 1997. Sandberg was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in January 2005; he was formally inducted in ceremonies on July 31, 2005. He resigned from his managerial duties for the Phillies on June 26, 2015, and was succeeded by Pete Mackanin.
Sandberg was a three-sport star in high school at North Central and graduated in 1978. The previous fall he was named to Parade Magazine's High School All-America football team, one of the eight quarterbacks, and one of two players from the state of Washington. The school's baseball field was named in his honor in 1985 as "Ryne Sandberg Field", and his varsity number was retired in both football and baseball.
Sandberg was recruited to play quarterback at NCAA Division I colleges, and eventually signed a letter of intent with Washington State University in Pullman. He opted not to attend after being selected in the 20th round of the 1978 baseball amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Sandberg made his major-league debut as a shortstop for the Phillies in 1981. Playing in 13 games, Sandberg had one hit in six at-bats for a .167 batting average during his brief stint with the team. The one hit occurred at Wrigley Field using a bat borrowed from starting shortstop Larry Bowa.
The Phillies did not have a role for him in the starting lineup, and did not project him as a successor at shortstop to Bowa. While Sandberg had played both second and third base in the minor leagues, he was blocked from those positions by Manny Trillo and Mike Schmidt. He was traded along with Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Iván DeJesús prior to the 1982 season. The trade, now reckoned as one of the most lopsided deals in baseball history, came about after negotiations for a new contract between Bowa and the Phillies broke down.
Cubs general manager Dallas Green wanted a young prospect to go along with the aging Bowa (as it turned out, Bowa's playing career ended after the 1985 season). Green had been instrumental in the drafting of Sandberg in 1978, while working in the Phillies front office. The two remained close over the years. Years later, Phillies general manager Paul Owens said that he hadn't wanted to trade Sandberg, but Green and the Cubs weren't interested in any of the other prospects he offered, so he had gone back to his scouts, who said Sandberg wouldn't be any more than a utility infielder. However, Sandberg had hit over .290 in the minors two years in a row. The trade is now considered one of the best (if not the best) in recent Cubs history. At the same time, it is considered one of the worst trades in Phillies, if not MLB history; DeJesus, despite helping anchor the Phillies infield on their way to the 1983 World Series, lasted only three years in Philadelphia, and was out of baseball by 1988.
Sandberg is one of two Hall of Famers who came up through the Phillies farm system and earned their Hall of Fame credentials primarily as Cubs, the other being Ferguson Jenkins. Similarly, Jenkins, then age 23, was traded to the Cubs in another trade that worked out better in the Cubs' favor, a multi-player trade for 1960s workhorse pitcher Larry Jackson, then age 35, and Bob Buhl, then age 37, whose best days were behind him.
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. After the Cubs acquired veteran Ron Cey following the 1982 season, they moved Sandberg to second base, where he became a star.
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 triples, 19 homers, and 84 RBIs. His runs and triples totals led the National League. 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 the National League Most Valuable Player Award, the first by a Cub since Ernie Banks' back-to-back honors in 1958 and 1959.
After his great season in which he garnered national attention, he wrote an autobiography Ryno with Fred Mitchell.
One game in particular was cited for putting Sandberg (as well as the 1984 Cubs in general) "on the map", an NBC national telecast of a Cardinals-Cubs 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 strong fan bases outside the Chicago and St. Louis areas.
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 and was especially dominant in 1984, saving 45 games. However, in the ninth inning, Sandberg, not yet known for his power, slugged a solo home run to left field against the Cardinals' ace closer, tying the game. Answering 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 a 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! What would the odds be if I told you that twice Sandberg would hit home runs off Bruce Sutter?"
The Cubs went on to win in the 11th inning, with the winning run being driven in by a single off the bat of Dave Owen. The Cardinals' Willie McGee, who hit for the cycle during the game, had already been named NBC's Player of the Game before Sandberg's first home run; Sandberg later shared that distinction with McGee. As NBC play-by-play announcer Bob Costas, who called the game with Tony Kubek, said when Sandberg hit the second home run, "Do you believe it?!" The game is known as "The Sandberg Game".
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 had reached forty until Brian Dozier in 2016. 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 then major league-record 123 straight games at second base without an error. This record was later broken in 2007 by Plácido Polanco, then of the Detroit Tigers. Sandberg played in front of his hometown fans in the 1990 MLB All-Star Game which was held in Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. Sandberg won the Home Run Derby with three home runs over the left-field bleachers. Not until the Cincinnati Reds' Todd Frazier in 2015 did another player win the Home Run Derby in his home stadium.
In 1991, Sandberg batted .291 with 26 home runs and batted in 100 runs for the second consecutive season. He also won his ninth consecutive Gold Glove at second base, breaking a tie he had shared with Bill Mazeroski for most Gold Gloves at that position (Roberto Alomar has since broken this record).
On March 2, 1992, Sandberg became the highest paid player in baseball at the time, signing a $28.4 million ($51,742,281 today) four-year extension worth $7.1 million ($12,935,570 today) 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.
Sandberg, a notoriously slow early season starter, found himself struggling even more so than usual early in the 1994 season. With his average at a career low .238 and having recorded only fifty-three hits in fifty-seven games, Sandberg decided to step away from baseball and on June 13, 1994, he announced his retirement. 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.
Sandberg returned to the Chicago Cubs for the 1996 and 1997 seasons, then retired 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. Sandberg's final game at Wrigley Field and final career hit were on September 21, 1997. This also was the final Wrigley Field game for Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray, who died in the following winter.
Initially, Sandberg kept a low profile after retiring. However, in 2005, Sandberg accepted his first marketing deal since his retirement, agreeing to be spokesman for National City Bank. He also appeared on ESPN Radio 1000 as an analyst during the 2004 baseball season. He is also a former baseball columnist for Yahoo! Sports.
Sandberg delivered what many traditionalist fans considered a stirring speech at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2005. 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. He also made a strong pitch for induction of his former teammate, Andre Dawson, who was ultimately elected to join the Hall in 2010, and famously promoted the election of a long-snubbed former Cub to the Hall by saying, "For what it's worth, Ron Santo just earned one more vote on the Veterans Committee."
Following his Hall of Fame induction, Sandberg had his number 23 retired in a ceremony at Wrigley Field on August 28, 2005, before a Cubs game against the Florida Marlins. He became only the fourth Chicago Cub to have his number retired, following respectively Ernie Banks (#14), Billy Williams (#26), and Ron Santo (#10). Since then, Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux (both #31) have been retired. Sandberg has worn his uniform number 23 in past jobs as a Cubs spring training instructor and Peoria Chiefs manager. He also wore that number during his time with the Iowa Cubs as their manager and as the manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Sandberg formerly served as a spring training instructor for the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona.
On December 5, 2006, Sandberg was named manager of the Cubs' Class-A Peoria Chiefs in the Midwest League. In his first season as a manager, he took his team to the Midwest League championship game. In December 2008, Sandberg was promoted to manager of the Class Double-A Team Tennessee Smokies in the Southern League. In December 2009, he was again promoted, to manager of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. Upon leading Iowa to an 82-62 record, the Pacific Coast League named him its 2010 Manager of the Year.
Sandberg has said that his ideal job was to manage the Chicago Cubs. Former manager Lou Piniella suggested that Sandberg, as manager of the Cubs' top minor-league affiliate, would be in the mix to replace him when he retired after the 2010 season. However, the position was given to interim manager Mike Quade.
On November 15, 2010, Sandberg left the Cubs organization and returned to his original organization as manager of the Phillies' top minor-league affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He led the IronPigs to their first-ever playoff appearance and the International League championship series. Baseball America named him its 2011 Minor League Manager of the Year.
After the 2012 season, Sandberg was promoted to third base coach and infield instructor of the Philadelphia Phillies. He was promoted to interim manager of the Phillies after they fired Charlie Manuel on August 16, 2013. Sandberg earned his first win as a manager against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday August 18, 2013.
On September 22, 2013, Sandberg was named permanent manager, with a three-year contract, with an option for 2017. He became the first Hall-of-Fame player to manage a team full-time since Frank Robinson managed the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals from 2002-2006.
On April 26, 2015, Sandberg earned his 100th win as a major league manager on a 5-4 win against the Atlanta Braves. Two months later, on June 26, 2015, Sandberg resigned from the position of Phillies manager with his team in last place in the National League East Division at a record of 26-48, the worst record in Major League Baseball.
In 2016, Sandberg joined the Cubs organization as a goodwill ambassador. In this position, he makes public appearances at Cubs-related events, and attends Cubs games to meet and greet fans.
|Team||From||To||Regular season record||Post-season record|
|W||L||Win %||W||L||Win %|
Sandberg married his high school sweetheart, Cindy, and the couple had two children, Justin and Lindsey. They divorced in July 1995. Sandberg married Margaret in August 1995. She has three children from her former marriage, BR, Adriane and Steven. He also has eight grandchildren. Ryne's nephew, Jared Sandberg, was a third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2001-2003.
Sandberg and his wife, Margaret, founded Ryno Kid Care to assist in the lives of children with serious illnesses. The organization provided anything from "big brothers" (mentors and older companions) to a home-cooked meal. Ryno Kid Care also provided massage therapists and clowns dressed up as doctors and nurses to brighten the children's day.
Ryno Kid Care's mission was "dedicated to enhancing the lives of children with serious medical conditions and their families, by providing supportive, compassionate and meaningful programming." Ryno Kid Care is no longer in operation.