Ryne Sandberg was a different type of second baseman than the game of baseball had ever seen. Not only did he have one of the best gloves in the game, as illustrated his nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards, he was also a great hitter for not only average but power as well.
Sandberg held the record for homeruns by a second baseman with 277 until just last year when Jeff Kent surpassed the mark. Sandberg, a pioneer however, paved the way for second basemen to become better hitters who could contribute to more than just defense.
His best year was, by far, the MVP award winning 1984 season. A great year by Sandberg helped to lead the Cubs into the playoffs for the first time since 1945 under then manager Jim Frey. During that season, Sandberg hit .314 with 19 HR and 84 RBI, all while winning his second Gold Glove.
As consistent a player as any team could ask for, Sandberg managed to hit close to .300 every year, ending his career with a .285 average. During his career, Sandberg led the '84 and '89 Cubs to the post-season, while playing on several fairly poor teams. One of the greatest marks of his career is the 123-game errorless streak--a record which still stands today among second basemen.
To compliment his consistency in the field and at the plate, Sandberg also managed to be a pest on the basepaths, stealing 344 bases in his career. In his later years, when his speed was diminishing, Sandberg would use his keen eye and baseball knowledge to pick the perfect time to run against a pitcher. His baseball smarts and workmanship was the true mark of a Hall of Famer.
A 20th round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, Sandberg worked tirelessly on his game to become one of the best at his position in the history of Major League Baseball. He wasn’t flashy and rarely talked about his game, but on Tuesday, he became just the 15th second baseman inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Sandberg also became the first Cub inducted since Dennis Eckersley, who played with the North Siders for three years and will go into the Hall alongside third baseman Wade Boggs this summer in Cooperstown.
The induction of "the natural" is a great relief not only to Sandberg, but also to Cubs’ fans who have been petitioning for his induction for many years. The Hall of Fame has added a truly great player to its list, and now one of the greatest second basemen in history has cemented his place in the history of a game he loved.
Ryan Worden occasionally writes for InsideTheIvy.com. He is also the publisher of Scout.com's HoosierInsider.com. Contact Mr. Worden by clicking here.