CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs plan to honor Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg with a statue outside Wrigley Field and put him in an exclusive club that includes Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ferguson Jenkins and Harry Caray.
When it comes to Sammy Sosa, however, nothing has changed. They’re not ready for a reunion.
Chairman Tom Ricketts surprised Sandberg with the announcement that the statue “is in progress” during a question-and-answer session with fans, drawing a standing ovation in a crowded ballroom.
They weren’t as happy when he told them there has been no progress toward welcoming back Sosa. Ricketts said he remains hopeful a reunion will happen and insisted: “I don’t think the final chapter has been written on this.”
The Cubs are scripting another chapter with Sandberg by giving him a statue that President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said will be unveiled in 2024. The slugging and slick-fielding second baseman could not be happier.
“I’m 63 years old and things are still happening,” Sandberg said. “Something like this is a pretty cool thing, like the Hall of Fame. To be part of a structure, to be part of Wrigley Field, that means so much to me because Wrigley Field was always my friend and so friendly to me. I loved the atmosphere and the fans, WGN-TV, 162 games broadcast and the whole thing about it. And the day games, I liked everything about that.”
Sandberg was an obvious choice for a statue.
He played in 13 games for Philadelphia in 1981, then got traded to Chicago and set out on a path to Cooperstown.
Sandberg was the National League MVP in 1984, made 10 All-Star teams and won nine Gold Gloves. He hit .285 with 282 homers and drove in 1,061 runs over 16 years.
Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 and had his No. 23 retired by the Cubs that year. Now, he is set to join Banks, Williams, Santo and Jenkins with statues in Gallagher Way, a gathering spot outside the famed ballpark and near the main entrance. The sculpture of Caray is just beyond the stadium, by the entrance to the bleachers at the corner of Waveland and Sheffield avenues.
“Everybody comes across the country to watch Cubs games just because of Wrigley Field,” Sandberg said. “To have that outside of there and have the fans be able to see that and enjoy it along with my family, that’s pretty cool.”
The Cubs shared the news with Sandberg’s family on Friday. But they kept it from him until he was called to the podium…