Sandberg talks with fans online
Cubs great participates in Hall of Fame chat series
Former Cubs second baseman and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg answered questions from fans during an online chat, courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The 1984 National League MVP shared some of his greatest baseball memories. He will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 31.Ryne Sandberg: Glad to be here and I look forward to your questions. Let's get rolling! Base_Ball_2: Congratulations on a much deserved award. I will be in Cooperstown July 31 to see the ceremony. Up until the Hall of Fame award, what did you consider was your greatest baseball accomplishment? Thanks, Beverly. Sandberg: Winning the MVP award in 1984 is at the top of my list. Not only was it a great year for myself, but it was a fantastic season for the Cubs. DALE_SUMMERS: Now that you are in the Hall of Fame, what will you do to relax? Sandberg: I don't think I'll relax too much this year, but any chance I get to play golf, fish or play tennis, I'm always ready to go. Along with working for the Cubs as an instructor in Spring Training. bedos420: Without a doubt, you are the best second baseman I've ever seen. Do you think your record of 123 errorless games will ever be broken? If so, who do you think has the best shot? Sandberg: That's a good question. I think that was one of the toughest things I accomplished, because while you're playing the game, you don't think about not committing an error. And there are so many situations that arise, that it's hard to go that long without an error. Records are always made to be broken and I'd be impressed to see somebody break that record. Eric_Jennings: What does it mean to you to have No. 23 retired by the Cubs? Sandberg: I think the retiring of No. 23 has been a dream of mine. I didn't know if it would ever happen, but it will be a great honor and I'll have great feelings seeing the No. 23 flag fly up there with Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo. Eric_Jennings: Besides Wrigley Field, what was your favorite place to play? Sandberg: The first place that comes to mind is Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It was always a great atmosphere for baseball, great fans, and a rivalry that is second to none in baseball. I also hit well there! Mitch_Novy: Will you be doing anything in the upcoming years with the Cubs or any other franchise? Sandberg: I'll continue my work in Spring Training for the Cubs, which I enjoy a lot. It's a great time of the year, with all the optimism. Living in Phoenix, it's convenient for me. mlb_com_member: What do you think about the Sammy Sosa deal? Sandberg: Being a former teammate of Sammy's, it's hard for me to see him leave Chicago. But I also know that sometimes it's hard toward the end of a player's career, it's hard to remain with a team, for many reasons. But I wish him all the best and I hope he enjoys the American League. couchman915: Ryno, I know when you came up to the bigs, you played some third base. Which position is tougher to play -- second or third? Third base gets some hot shots and you have a longer throw, but second you have to cover more territory. Sandberg: I think the toughest position on the infield is shortstop, which I played all through the minors. I think that helped me make the move to third base my rookie season. I welcomed the move to second base knowing that I could use my speed and my range. My favorite thing to do was turn the double play from the second base side, with the fear factor that's involved. Priority_22: Did you have any gameday rituals or superstitions when you played? Sandberg: I was a player who enjoyed a routine, so I think in a lot of ways that was superstitious. I ate at the same restaurants, left for the ballpark at the same time. I'd eat the same breakfast if I had a good game. I think I also put my uniform on the same way each time, subconsciously. gobbs: How special is it having played for the Cubs for virtually your entire Major League career? Sandberg: I look at that as a blessing. I was able to have Chicago as a home for 15 years and to be able to play primarily day baseball at Wrigley Field. It was a big thrill. bryan_ohama: Over your career, who would you say was the toughest pitcher you faced? Sandberg: Two pitchers come to mind -- Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton. I struggled against each of them early in my career, because I think I was in awe of them, but also because they had Hall of Fame stuff on the mound. Eric_Jennings: What would you tell kids today they need to do in order to become a great fielder like you? Sandberg: I spent many hours throwing a ball against the front stairs of my house, and fielding the ball as it came back to me. I would do that hours and hours each day, pretending I was in big games -- in the World Series. Also, I simulated players I used to watch, acting out their movements. Guys like Davey Lopes, Davey Concepcion, Joe Morgan, Bill Russell. I used a tennis ball sometimes because it was very lively. I would make the plays harder by throwing them at an angle so I would have to dive. My brother and I would sometimes try to hit a golf ball. Curtis_Pope: I'm from Oklahoma City. What was it like playing ball for the 89ers? Sandberg: I had a great experience playing for the 89ers. I think I hit over .300 that year at Triple-A and won a Gold Glove award at shortstop. Oklahoma City was definitely a big stepping stone for my career, as I played in front of bigger crowds and facing Triple-A players on a daily basis. woody126: How much do you think team chemistry plays a role in a winning ballclub? Sandberg: I think chemistry all starts with a group of players pulling for each other, and it definitely grows as the team wins games. The more wins you have, the better the team chemistry gets. The two work hand-in-hand. DALE_SUMMERS: Do you collect any of your baseball cards? Sandberg: I have a great collection of my own cards that I've collected along the way. Each of my children have a good assortment of my cards, too. My favorites were my three rookie cards in 1983. It was great to see my own picture on a card. That was when it really sunk in to me that I was in the big leagues. I also have a nice collection of other rookie cards, like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose. Sandberg: One story I want to share is about my first big league game. It was only the fourth big league game that I ever saw, and I was in uniform. Growing up in Spokane, Wash., we didn't have Major League baseball. Twice for vacation when I was a kid we went to games, in Fenway and in Minneapolis. We also went to Oakland for a game too. But in Spokane we'd maybe watch some on TV, but then we'd go outside and play a game ourselves. drew21: I have seen your first name misspelled many times. Where did the spelling originate? I named my first son after you! Sandberg: I was named after Ryne Duren, who pitched for the Yankees in the 1950s. My parents watched him pitch a game in Minnesota in the early 1960s and his name was in headlines, and it got their attention. Sometimes when they spelled my name wrong, in school or something, I'd just go along with it, until my parents would fix it. I've met Ryne Duren twice and I think he likes that I became a ballplayer. It's pretty ironic to be named after a baseball player and make it like I did. steven_villalta: What was your favorite memory of Harry Caray? Sandberg: A teammate and I were walking through the locker room to get some Gatorade during a game one time, and Harry was on the radio and he says, "There's a drive to left right center!" My teammate and I looked at each other trying to figure out where the ball had been hit. He also referred to me as "Syne Randberg" sometimes. Another time, in 1984, I hit a routine popup to short left field and it fell in because the sun was in the fielder's eyes, and Harry said, "Holy Cow! Ryne Sandberg is so smart, he even uses the sun to his advantage." James_Beatty: What game is the most memorable for you in your career? Sandberg: I'll pick two games, both games clinched the Eastern Division. The first in 1984, in Pittsburgh, and the other in 1989 in Montreal. The Cubs fans were going crazy all summer long and it capped great seasons. Sandberg: I enjoyed the web chat. I look forward to this summer, and I invite everyone to Cooperstown July 31 for the induction ceremony. Hope to see you there!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.