Thursday, May 16, 2013

#3 Ryne Sandberg

About the Front: I gushed about the first two cards, but this photo is a real dud. The camera is zoomed in so tightly on Ryne Sandberg that we have no idea of the context. He could have just received a throw from the catcher and might be preparing to tag a sliding base stealer, but since we can't see any other player, it just looks like he's standing stock-still on the bag, hunched over at the waist. It's none too exciting. Plus, the shadows from the afternoon sun at Wrigley Field are covering Ryno's eyes.

About the Back: 19 triples in 1984? That's wild. Kenny Lofton, for example, never had more than 13 three-baggers. That '84 season saw Sandberg win the NL MVP, as the Cubs captured a rare Eastern Division crown. It's also worth mentioning that Ryne's consecutive-hits record didn't even last a full season. From June 30-July 2, 1993, Sammy Sosa hit safely in nine straight at-bats.

Triple Play:

1. In mid-June of 1994, Sandberg stunned the baseball world by retiring a few months shy of his 35th birthday and walking away from the last two and a half years of a four-year, $28 million contract. He was hitting .238 with five homers and 24 RBI in 57 games, and cited frustration at his own subpar performance. It certainly couldn't have helped that the Cubs were in last place. After taking a full season off, he returned in 1996 and played for two more years, batting .253/.313/.426 with 37 homers and 156 RBI total.

2. Ryno has managed in both the Cubs and Phillies farm systems, and took the AA Tennessee Valley Smokies (2009) and the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs (2011) to their leagues' respective championship series. Prior to the 2013 season, he was named the Phillies' big league third base coach and infield instructor, and he's thought to be next in line to manage Philadelphia.

3. His final game at Wrigley Field (September 21, 1997) was also the last home game for Harry Caray, as the legendary Cubs' announcer died the following February. Ryne went 2-for-3 with an RBI double, and Miguel Cairo pinch-ran for him after his fifth-inning single.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: No thoughts about this card, really. I knew that Ryne Sandberg was a big deal, and that was about it. Apropos of nothing, "Ryno" isn't a very creative nickname.

Bill James Said: "He's got years left as a quality player." Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.

On This Date in 1993: May 16. Randy Johnson loses a no-hit bid with one out in the ninth inning when Oakland's Lance Blankenship drops a single into short right field. The Big Unit also walked a pair of batters, but sealed his one-hitter with strikeouts of Eric Fox and Ruben Sierra. The Mariners won 7-0.

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