It took nearly three decades for Ryne Sandberg to come home to the Philadelphia Phillies. After two seasons as manager of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, he's ready for the major league challenges that lie ahead this year.
“Ryno” was dealt to the Chicago Cubs in one of the most infamous trades in franchise history in the early 1980s. Being included with shortstop Larry Bowa in a deal that sent those two infielders to Dallas Green's new team for Ivan DeJesus didn't seem historic when it happened. As Sandberg's Hall of Fame career developed, opinions changed.
Long after his playing career ended, Sandberg decided that he wanted to start a second career in the game. Instead of using his credentials to obtain a position in the majors, he chose to ride the buses in the minors by accepting a low-level managerial position with the Cubs in 2007.
The Hall of Famer managed at three different levels in Chicago's farm system before leaving the organization after the 2010 season, because he wasn't offered their open major league managerial job. That's when the Phillies' reunion took place.
Sandberg led his Lehigh Valley teams to winning seasons in 2011 and 2012 and then was promoted to the parent club's third base coach and infield instructor's position immediately after the regular season ended.
With six years of minor league experience under his belt, this 53-year-old baseball lifer appears to be ready to become the Philadelphia's next major league manager. As Charlie Manuel is entering the final season of his own contract and with the team undergoing a roster transition, the Phillies will probably keep Sandberg this time around.
Baseball, like life, is never fully predictable. Seeing Sandberg in red pinstripes again this season will be a welcomed curveball.