No.5: “The Sandberg Game”
The year was 1984 and that year was a very good year for the Chicago Cubs. That year the Cubs made the playoffs for the first time in 39 years. It was also the year that Ryne Sandberg would win the National League MVP and become one of the best all-around players in baseball.
The game was televised as the National Game of the Week and it would showcase a St. Louis Cardinals team that sported a losing record of 34-37 against a Chicago Cubs team that was flying under the radar at 37-31. Not only did the Cubs gain the national attention of baseball fans, but Sandberg would as well.
Sandberg put the Cubs on the board early with an RBI single, but that lead didn’t last long as the Cardinals would jump out to a quick 7-1 lead after two innings.
In the sixth, down 9-3, the Cubs got back into the game with a five-run inning – highlighted by a single that drove in two by Sandberg. He would get thrown out at second trying to stretch the single into a double.
Heading into the ninth inning and the Cardinals now with a 9-8 lead, they looked to their all-star closer Bruce Sutter to slam the door on any comeback by the Cubs. At the time, Sutter was one of the most dominant closers in all of baseball. “Ryno” led off the inning against Sutter and turned on his offering and sent one into the left field bleachers to tie the game up at 9-9 in the ninth.
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The Cardinals battled back and scored two in the 10th to reclaim the lead. Sutter was still in the game for the Cardinals and he’d force back-to-back groundouts to start the 10th. He then issued a walk to Bob Dernier which meant that Sutter would have to face Sandberg again, but this time there was one runner on base.
Again, with the game on the line Sutter served up a two-run homer to Sandberg and “Ryno” tied the game up again off the dominant closer. The Cubs would end up winning the game in the 11th, but the real story was Sandberg’s performance. He’d finish the game going 5-for-6, two homers, two runs scored, and seven runs batted in.
With that kind of performance, there’s a good reason why it’s called “The Sandberg Game”.
Next: No.4: Saying Goodbye to Two Cubs Legends