Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Revitalized Sandberg Is Leading Cubs Again

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Revitalized Sandberg Is Leading Cubs Again

Article excerpt

When he retired after 13 major league seasons on June 13, 1994, Ryne Sandberg was the best-fielding second baseman in baseball history. Of every 100 chances to come his way, he handled 99 without error.

Now Sandberg is back, still looking fit at age 36, and he's still got his golden glove with him.

Revitalized by a new marriage and encouraged by Chicago's new management group, Sandberg is back in a leadership role with the Cubs.

Halfway through his comeback season, Sandberg is batting .247 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs. He has committed only one error.

When he retired 21 months ago because his marriage was on the rocks and the Cubs were going nowhere, Sandberg walked away from what was then baseball's richest contract.

In giving up some $7 million a year, Sandberg also gave up a slice of his reputation as a hard-working, never-stop-trying ballplayer.

Suddenly, Ryne Sandberg was a quitter.

"I was upset, because we really needed him and he just walked away on us," first baseman Mark Grace said. "But only `Ryno' really knows what was going on in his head. I knew he wasn't having fun. He didn't like the front office. He didn't like the losing. He didn't like the things in his personal life. It all just came to a head and he had to get out. I u nderstand now."

Said Sandberg, who will be paid $2 million plus incentives this season: "That was something I had to do. I couldn't worry about what the public thought."

Publicly, Sandberg said he left mostly because he thought then-Cubs general manager Larry Himes was incompetent. However, his failing marriage and his dispute over the custody of his two children were bigger factors.

Cindy Sandberg filed for divorce a week after he retired. A few days before the divorce was finalized, Sandberg became engaged to Margaret Koehnemann, a neighborhood friend. They married last August. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that Sandberg's children could spend much of the baseball season with him.

Sandberg made his decision to return to baseball last September. …

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