Sandberg to Cooperstown

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:57 PM ET

Ferguson Jenkins was 39 at the time.

He remembers the 22-year-old rookie showing up in the spring of 1982 at the Chicago Cubs camp.

"They didn't know what they were going to do with him, play him at third base, second or put him in the outfield," Jenkins, of Chatham, Ont., said yesterday from Scottsdale, Ariz.

And so in 1982, Ryne Sandberg played third base. The next year, Cubs general manager Dallas Green acquired Ron Cey to play third, and Sandberg moved to second, bumping the redoubtable Bump Wills.

Sandberg made the final step in his baseball career yesterday when he and Wade Boggs were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are July 31 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Boggs was named on 91.8% of the ballots cast by Baseball Writers of America members.

Sandberg had 76.2%, making the cut by six votes.

"It's a great day, another Cub in the Hall of Fame," Jenkins said. "Now, if we can just get Ron Santo in, I mailed my ballot to Cooperstown the other day."

Third baseman Santo, a Jenkins teammate, was not elected during his 15 years on the ballot and it now up to the veterans committee -- living members of the Hall of Fame -- to decide whether he should be inducted.

Sandberg's career followed Jenkins in so many ways.

Both were signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. Both were dealt to the Cubs. Sandberg was acquired along with Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus in January 1982.

The Phillies dealt John Herrnstein, Adolfo Phillips and Jenkins to the Chicago Cubs for Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl on April 26, 1966.

In Philly there is a tossup as to which was the worst trade.

While Jenkins had six consecutive 20-win seasons for the Cubs, Sandberg was a nine-time Gold Glove winner and a 10-time all-star.

It took Jenkins three elections before he surpassed the required 75% to get elected in 1991. It took Sandberg three seasons as well.

"My first year eligible, Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski were elected, the next year Joe Morgan and Jim Palmer got in," Jenkins said. "I don't think waiting a couple of years diminishes what a player has accomplished."

Sandberg played 2,164 games in 16 seasons. All but 13 games were with the Cubs.

The biggest question we get asked about the Hall of Fame voting process is why do vote totals change when a retired player's home run or RBIs totals do not?

Well, for one thing the electorate changes, perception changes. I started voting for Andre Dawson, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter and Jack Morris since the day they were on the ballot.

No one defined the term big-game pitcher in the American League since 1980 moreso than Morris. Suggestions he didn't get enough votes because he was sometimes crusty are folly. Steve Carlton didn't even speak to the media and he was elected.

Another reason for changes is lobbying by fans. A man in Iowa argued with me for months when he found out I didn't vote for Bert Blyleven. He won and we voted for Blyleven this year. Enough others didn't as he wound up with 40.9% of the vote.

"I played against some pretty good second baseman in Joe Morgan and Bill Mazeroski and I had Glenn Beckert behind me," Jenkins said. "Morgan and Sandberg were the best."

"If there was a clutch hit with runners in scoring position, Ryne was the guy. He was clutch, he was similar to Billy Williams."


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