I started to follow Ryne Sandberg at the beginning of the 1983 season. I became roommates with a co-worker as we figured we were on the road most of the time so wouldn’t have to see much of each other. However, when one of us was there it was always nice to have someone to watch the condo where we lived. We became real good friends. I left my 1983 Bill James Abstract out. He came to me and said I played against one of the guys in your book, Ryne Sandberg in little league. My friend had pitched against Sandberg. I figured this had to be true because Sandberg wasn’t a big star.
My friend was only 5 feet 7 inches but had a strong arm. One time we went to a college football field. He told me to go stand on the 50 while another friend stayed with him in the end zone. He threw me the ball which looked like a small bird to start with. I didn’t want to miss this catch and started to feel the pressure. It takes a little bit of time for a football to fly 50 yards. I actually backed up 5 yards and caught the ball. So, the throw was 55 yards. Our agency was located in various offices across the Country. People knew we were friends. Many people from other offices ask me if he really threw the football 50 yards. I would tell them it was actually 55 and I caught it.
My friend and I went to spring training with a third friend to Arizona one year for Spring Training and saw the Cubs play. I went to the bathroom and coming back I decided to look around. There I saw Andre Dawson and Sandberg going to the batting cages for some batting practice. My friend wanted his autograph, so I ran and got him. I said earlier my friend was 5 feet 7 inches, six inches shorter in Sandberg. Sandberg actually looked taller. It was interesting looking at the height difference between the two.
Sandberg spent most of his career hitting second and Mark Grace a first baseman, but not as much of a power hitter batting third. A lot of fans complained that Grace should bat ahead of Sandberg as Sandberg was more of a power hitter. Later it was proven lineup order didn’t make that much of a difference. Also, I believe I saw something where Sandberg said he was more comfortable batting 2nd. Also, Mark Grace hit better in his career batting third instead of second. Personally I thing they batted in the right position.