Ryne Sandberg

Position: Second baseman
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1981; Chicago Cubs, 1982-1994; 1996-1997

When the Chicago Cubs traded shortstops with the Philadelphia Phillies on January 27, 1982, with Ivan De-Jesus heading east and Larry Bowa relocating to Chicago, few people could have dreamed that a throw-in named Ryne Sandberg would make the trade the best in Cubs history.

Sandberg hit 19 triples during his MVP season in 1984 and swiped a career-best 54 bases a year later.
Sandberg hit 19 triples during his MVP
season in 1984 and swiped a
career-best 54 bases a year later.

Sandberg (born 1959) was the National League's top second baseman for a decade. But his Cubs career began in 1982 at age 22 as a third baseman. After surviving a 1-for-32 start, he demonstrated speed, defensive ability, and line-drive power. But only in 1983, when he moved to second on a full-time basis, did Sandberg become one of the game's top stars.

On June 23, 1984, Sandberg shined in a nationally televised game against St. Louis. Upstaging Willie McGee, who hit for the cycle, Sandberg belted game-tying homers off Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter in both the ninth and tenth innings, knocking in seven runs in an 11-inning Cubs win. The spectacular performance led St. Louis manager Whitey Herzog to declare that Sandberg was the best player he had ever seen.

A lot of people felt that way in 1984. Sandberg made a quantum leap in his game that season, leading the Cubs to an NL East crown. An easy MVP choice, "Ryno" led the league in runs and triples and batted .314 with 36 doubles, 32 steals, and 19 homers.

Twice more in his career, Sandberg paced the NL in runs, and in 1990 he topped the league with 40 homers. He hit .300 five times from 1984 to '93, made ten All-Star teams, and was 15-for-39 (.385) in postseason play.

A smooth second baseman with a strong arm, Sandberg was consistent, rather than spectacular, in the field. He set a major-league record by going errorless in 123 straight games through May 17, 1990. He won nine Gold Glove Awards and set the career record for second basemen with a .989 fielding percentage.

Sandberg also set the major-league mark for most homers hit by a second baseman (277). But even so, he was known more for his overall offensive game rather than any one area of expertise.

The quiet -- some would say taciturn -- Sandberg had high standards, and in 1994, with a work stoppage looming, he no longer felt the desire to play. Sandberg retired, and sat out 1995, before returning in 1996. While he was no longer a star-quality player, his return gave Cubs fans a chance to say a proper goodbye. After retirement, Sandberg remained a spring training instructor with his beloved Cubs and was a huge attraction at fan conventions. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on his third try in 2005.

Here are Ryne Sandberg's major league totals:

282 1,061 344

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