Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame infielder Ryne Sandberg – Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Second Base: Ryne Sandberg (1983)
Without question the greatest second baseman in Chicago Cubs history, and in my opinion to ever play second in Major League Baseball.
The reason I became a Cubs fan was Ryne Sandberg. “Ryno” was initially a “throw-in” of sorts in the Larry Bowa for Ivan de Jesus trade with the Philadelphia Phillies- except he’d turn out to be the crown jewel of the trade.
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Originally management had him penciled in to be the third baseman. Good thing it was written in pencil -as it would soon be erased.
The Cubs made a trade to acquire third baseman Ron Cey from the Dodgers. Cey was a good power bat and a former six-time All-Star. With that trade, Sandberg was moved over to second base.
Going into the 1983 season, he was considered one of the better prospects in the organization – as there was a buzz around him.
It was thought that Sandberg would be a good contact hitter, but maybe not for power. He would post a solid rookie season with the Cubs – with a .271 average, seven home runs, 54 runs batted in, and 32 steals.
That was good enough to earn him sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year vote – which was won by Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax.
While some would say that Sandberg was and is the best second baseman in Cubs history – I’m sure there will be some who say that Ken Hubbs may have been a better choice for this spot.
Quick history lesson for those who don’t know about Ken Hubbs. Ken Hubbs won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1962 – he would also win the Gold Glove award for second base in the National League.
According to what I’ve read about him on Wikipedia via source Peter Golenbock. Wrigleyville, A Magical History Tour of the Chicago Cubs. St. Martin’s Press. p. 382 “he was considered to be one of the best defensive second basemen in the game.”
Unfortunately, Hubbs was killed in a plane crash before the 1964 season. While I do not know much about him – I plan on doing more research to learn more about him. From what I’ve read – he sounded like a class act and one very good athlete.
Next: Mr. Cub