After being traded to the Chicago Cubs years ago in one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history, Ryne Sandberg finally made his return to Wrigley Field, doing so as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
When the Phillies traded Sandberg and Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus, no one could have anticipated what the second base prospect would amount to. It is evident the Phillies didn’t expect much out of Sandberg at the time.
But it was Sandberg who accomplished his feats with the Cubs, and Chicago was the team he always called his home and the team he thought he would one day manage when Lou Piniella finally retired.
It didn’t work out that way. Just like the Phillies once undervalued what Sandberg would become, the Cubs passed on him when it came to naming Pinella’s successor. The organization may have thought he was too green, too young and too inexperienced, or perhaps it was that Dale Sveum really just blew them away.
Either way, Sandberg, who had just come off of winning the Triple-A manager of the year for taking the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs to their first ever playoff game, was disappointed. Managing the Cubs, he would later say, was his dream job.
But having passed on him once, the Phillies were not going to let him get away again. So when the decision came to fire Charlie Manuel, Sandberg was the obvious successor. So far, he has proven that this was the right choice.
Since Sandberg took over, the Phillies have only lost one series and have a record of 9-7. Against the Cubs, the Phillies split the first two games and will look to the Sunday finale to get Sandberg another winning series and one that might hold the most meaning.
He already got the standing ovations, so a series sweep would just complete the perfect homecoming for one of the greatest second baseman to ever play the game.