Congratulations! Hall Of Fame For Ryne Sandberg

Ryno was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame today, receiving 76.2% of the vote, or six votes to spare, on his third year of eligibility.

Wade Boggs was also elected, with 91.8% of the vote, becoming the 41st player to get in on his first try, and that is also the nineteenth-highest vote total in HoF history.

I feel a special affinity to Sandberg, not only as a member of the Cubs for so many years, and as a leader of the 1984 playoff team, but he is probably the first Hall of Famer whose career I saw in its entirety.

And that leads me to an anecdote.

Along with 18,872 other Cub fan masochists, I attended the last date of the 1981 season at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and the Phillies. It was a strike year; the Cubs were winding up a horrid 38-65 year and the Phillies were on their way to the split-season playoffs.

And on that last day, September 27, the Cubs and Phillies played a doubleheader. In the first game, Cub-killer Steve Carlton beat the Cubs 5-2, but somehow, in the second game, a makeshift lineup that included Tye Waller (four hits) and Pat Tabler (1st major league home run) scored twelve runs in the first four innings on their way to a bizarre 14-0 victory.

With a team going to the playoffs, the Phillies pulled all their regulars and put in reserves like Greg Gross, Del Unser, George Vukovich, Bob Dernier, and a skinny kid shortstop named... Ryne Sandberg.

Sandberg had been a September callup for the Phillies and had been a defensive replacement and pinch-hitter up to that date, and on that sunny Sunday, he got his first major league hit, a little flare of a single to right field off Mike Krukow, and his only hit not in a Cubs uniform.

I wish I could tell you that I remembered it better than that, but who knew that a 22-year-old shortstop wearing #37 for the opposition, would eventually become one of the best-loved Cubs ever, and today a member of the Hall of Fame? I sure didn't.

But I can say I was there. Congratulations, Ryno. Now let's hope for the Veterans Committee to add some more joy to the Cub family by voting Ron Santo in. Vets Committee voting will be released on March 2.
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