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Sandberg, Boggs get call to Hall


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Major League Baseball

Ryne Sandberg

In his private moments, Ryne Sandberg admitted, he would ask himself: Am I really a Hall of Famer?

"Then I'd quickly answer: 'Who am I to decide? It's the sportswriters' shrine,' " he said yesterday.

For two agonizing years, the voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America had answered the question negatively, failing to give Sandberg the necessary 75 percent for induction despite a career that established him as one of the great second basemen in history.

But yesterday, the magical phone call finally came. On his third try, Sandberg was elected to the Hall of Fame by the scantest of margins.

With 393 votes out of the record 516 cast ? just six over the 75 percent threshold ? the Spokane native becomes the second graduate of a Washington high school to reach Cooperstown.

Sandberg follows outfielder Earl Averill, class of 1920 at Everett High School, inducted in 1975.

"One of my main goals for 20 years was to get into the World Series and win a World Series for the Chicago Cubs," Sandberg said in a national conference call, speaking from Phoenix Airport as he headed off to New York for a Hall of Fame press conference.

"This puts an exclamation point on my career and diminishes the frustration I had for so many years. I would call it some type of closure, and tremendous satisfaction."

Sandberg will be inducted in July with another All-Star infielder, five-time batting champion Wade Boggs, who went in overwhelmingly in his first year on the ballot. Boggs received 474 votes from 10-year members of the BBWAA, making him the 41st player to go in on the first ballot. His 91.86 percentage of ballots was 19th highest in Hall history.

"I wouldn't have classified it as the end of the world if I hadn't gotten in today, but it would have been a disappointment because of the numbers I put up," said Boggs, a 12-time All-Star who had 3,010 hits.

Sandberg knows the feeling, having received 49.2 percent of the vote in 2002, and 61.1 percent last year, when he fell 71 votes short. He picked up 84 votes from last year, which led to the long-awaited call yesterday morning from BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell.

"It was one of the more incredible phone calls I've ever received," Sandberg said. "Not only that, it came a little earlier than expected, so my initial reaction was it caught me a little off guard. Total elation set in shortly after that."

Though Sandberg lives in Arizona, the elation reached Spokane, where his baseball coach at North Central High School, Kenny Eilmes, didn't try to hide his pride.

"This doesn't happen every day," said Eilmes, who retired in 2000.

Wade Boggs will enter in July.

Eilmes was also assistant football coach at North Central, where Sandberg was a Parade All-American quarterback who set passing records later broken by Shadle Park's Mark Rypien.

"You never know a guy is going to become a Hall of Famer, but as far as a great person and a great athlete, he was that," Eilmes said. "He just has class written all over him. That was the type of person he was then, and still is."

Sandberg's brother, Del Sandberg, is a teacher at Marshall Middle School in Olympia and father of major-league infielder Jared Sandberg. He was called out of class yesterday to be delivered the good news, and immediately called Ryne to offer congratulations.

"He was elated," said Del, who was named after former major-league slugger Del Ennis. (Ryne was named for pitcher Ryne Duren). "He said things were really buzzing. He kind of waited his turn, but when a guy set a lot of major-league records at his position, and was as steady as he was for all those years, it's well-deserving. We felt it was just a matter of time."

One regret for the Sandberg family ? which includes a sister, Maryl Nance, who works for KING-TV in Seattle ? is that their mother, Elizabeth, didn't live to see Ryne enshrined. She died in July. Sandberg's father, Derwent, a Spokane mortician, died in 1986, and Ryne's older brother, Lane, died in 1992 at age 42 of an epileptic seizure.

Ryne Sandberg spoke yesterday of how influential was his Spokane upbringing.

"I have great memories there," he said. "Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I think that's where I established the work ethic I maintained through my whole career. A lot of that comes from the hard-working attitude that's in Spokane."

Sandberg was a nine-time Gold Glove second baseman and 10-time All-Star. When he retired for good in 1997 (after stepping away for a year and a half midway through the 1994 season for what he yesterday termed "personal reasons"), Sandberg held the record for most home runs by a second baseman (277, since broken by Jeff Kent) and highest fielding percentage (.989).

source:Seattletimes.com

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Wade boggs was a decent thrird baseman by time he got to the yankees. Iv only had a chance to see him after his bat slowed down wwhen the yanks got him purely for his defensive skills. still him rideing around the stadium in 96 on horseback after the yanks won the series is a very nice memory.

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Wade boggs was a decent thrird baseman by time he got to the yankees. Iv only had a chance to see him after his bat slowed down wwhen the yanks got him purely for his defensive skills. still him rideing around the stadium in 96 on horseback after the yanks won the series is a very nice memory.

585259489[/snapback]

the '96 series :pinch:

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sandberg just good? i thought he was one of the best 2b ever! my fave cubs player of all time. i got his autograph once, but it's faded so much you can barely see it :(

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