Ryne Sandberg got his introductory visit to Cooperstown yesterday. The Hall has been doing this for about a decade now, showing the new inductees around, giving them a little orientation and explaining how the induction works, so there won't be any misunderstandings later.
Well, there's one misunderstanding, and I hope Ryno doesn't tell this story at his induction ceremony, because it's wrong.
The article talks about what Ryno checked out during his tour, and how he looked at the collection of press clippings about his career. But he also took a look at the collection of clippings of Ryne Duren, the Yankee relief pitcher after whom Ryno was named.
In it he tells the story of how his parents saw Ryne Duren pitch against the Twins in Minneapolis and decided upon the name then. One problem: Ryno was born in September of 1959--the Twins didn't play their first game until April of 1961.
So what is the real story here?
One possibility is that the story is true, and Ryno's parents changed his name when he was two years old and didn't tell him (or Ryno left that part of the story out). Doubtful, especially since Ryne Duren only pitched four games for the Yankees in 1961 before getting traded to the Angels in May and didn't earn a "retroactive save" in any of them. Besides, who changes their kid's name when they're two years old? (OK--my sister, but that's because they adopted a two year old with a silly name.)
A second possibility was that it was an exhibition game in 1959, and it wasn't the Twins but rather the Minneapolis Millers or the St. Paul Saints. Could be. I have no way of checking what exhibition games the Yankees played in 1959. But it would seem odd that the Yankees would play either team in an exhibition game in 1959, as the Millers were a Red Sox farm team and the Saints were a Dodgers farm team. I kinda doubt that the Yankees would do a favor for the top farm team of two of their most hated rivals, even in the pre-Steinbrenner era. I also doubt that anyone would make a big deal out of Ryne Duren shutting down a AAA team in an exhibition game.
A third possibility is that it was actually the Washington Senators and not the Twins, but Ryno's parents told him it was the Twins so as not to confuse it with the team that is now the Texas Rangers. Easily possible. But if Ryno is from Spokane Washington, what would his parents be doing in Washington DC?
And that is the whole problem with the whole story. The nearest American League team to Spokane Washington in 1959 was the Kansas City Athletics, whom we haven't even mentioned yet. Air travel wasn't cheap or easy and trains from the West Coast were long and slow. Now maybe Ryno's parents didn't live in Spokane in the months before he was born, I don't know. John Kerry was born in Colorado (as he mentioned every time he went there) but he's as Massachusetts as they come. It would be unusual though.
Which brings me to what I think was the truth. Ryno's parents, in Spokane Washington, saw a Yankees game on TV or listened to it on the radio. It was probably the game of the week. Maybe it was against the Senators, but I'd bet that Ryne Duren pitched and he and his wife liked the sound of the name. When the Senators moved to Minnesota, Ryno's dad took a trip to Minneapolis to see his favorite Yankees, who were only half a continent away now instead of a whole one. The two events merged into one in his mind and he came to believe that he got the name for his kid at the old Metropolitan Stadium.
Either that, or his parents really are time-travelling aliens.