Ryne Sandberg

Cubs officially unveil statue for Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg

The statue took its place next to bronze tributes to fellow Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks

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Ryne Sandberg hopes Chicago Cubs fans remember him as an alert and active defensive player.

That’s exactly how they’ll see him from now on when they enter Wrigley Field.

The club unveiled a statue of the Hall of Fame second baseman outside the historic ballpark before Sunday’s series finale against the New York Mets. The 64-year-old Sandberg said the ceremony was especially touching after his cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

“My life changed a lot in 1984,” Sandberg said of his MVP season, “but it was nothing like what happened six months ago.

“My thoughts today are love, life, family and friends.”

There was no shortage of friends there as the statue, depicting Sandberg crouched and waiting for a grounder, was dedicated. Some teammates from Chicago’s 1984 and ’89 NL East champions were there, along with the Cubs' current players, who watched the ceremony from the lower-deck concourse railing.

Bob Costas emceed the ceremony, which also drew Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams. Actor Bill Murray, a visible and vocal Cubs fan for decades, made the trip.

“I can’t really say it’s what I thought; it’s more than what I thought,” Sandberg said. “To see all those guys come out, it was very touching.”

Sandberg came to the Cubs from Philadelphia after the 1981 season as an add-on to a trade that sent Larry Bowa to Chicago for Ivan De Jesus. He made sure to thank Bowa, who was on the dais Sunday, for being “disgruntled” enough to want to leave the Phillies and demand the swap.

Two seasons later, Sandberg was the league MVP and helped the Cubs end a nearly three-decade postseason drought with the NL East title.

Sunday’s ceremony took place 40 years to the day he hit a pair of late homers in a nationally televised win over St. Louis.

He played all but 13 games during his 16-year career with the Cubs and finished with a .285 batting average, 282 home runs, 1061 RBIs and nine Gold Gloves. The club retired the 10-time All-Star’s No. 23 in 2005, the same summer he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Sandberg announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. He’s kept well-wishers updated on his progress through an Instagram account and said last month that scans showed no signs of cancer.

The statue took its place next to bronze tributes to fellow Hall of Famers Jenkins, Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks. Groundskeepers cut Sandberg’s number into the center field grass before the start of the weekend series against the Mets.

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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