The name "Ryne Sandberg" gets instant recognition, but the Cubs icon and Hall of Famer didn't want anything handed to him. He earned it in his post-playing career, managing for six years in the minor leagues before his big break with the Philadelphia Phillies this season.
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"That says a lot about his character," Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said. "He didn't want to cut any corners or use his name to jump on a big-league staff.
"He wanted to learn how to be a manager and how to manage. He obviously did that the right way."
Sandberg's journey came full circle Friday afternoon as the interim Phillies manager. The crowd of 27,763 welcomed him with a warm reception, something Barney expected.
"It's a special day for him and his family, coming back to this city that had a huge role in his life," Barney said. "There's not one fan in this city that has anything negative to say about Ryne Sandberg. What would they have? That he didn't get 10 Gold Gloves instead of nine?
"Win or lose, this will be a day that he remembers for a long time."
Sandberg made more than $25 million during his playing career, but ditched glamour, comfort and convenience for the rough travel life in the minors.
"You respect that a lot," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "A Hall of Famer that's done a lot of great things in a big market in one of the best cities in the world. He obviously doesn't need money or anything like that.
"To go back down and grind in the minor leagues - you just don't see a lot of guys [do that] and get on buses."
Sandberg's Phillies squad wound up winning his managerial debut at Wrigley Field 6-5, completing a comeback off the Cubs and ace Jeff Samardzija, who had built a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning.
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Sandberg managed Barney at three different levels throughout the Cubs system, totaling 232 games starting with Low-A Peoria in 2007 (44 games), then Double-A Tennessee in 2009 (74) and finally Triple-A Iowa in 2010 (114).
"Every year I saw him, he was better and better at connecting with players," Barney said. "I think a lot of that has to do with once you get to Double-A and Triple-A, it's easier to see eye-to-eye with guys. At the lower levels, some guys aren't sure this is what they want to do and for certain guys like Ryno, it's hard for them to understand that because baseball is their lives.
"His development through the minors was a big example of his dedication to baseball and doing things the right way."
Barney was originally drafted as a shortstop, but had to switch to second base when Starlin Castro emerged as the Cubs' franchise shortstop.
Sandberg helped mentor Barney at second, utilizing the knowledge and instincts that helped him earn nine straight National League Gold Gloves from 1983-91. The lessons paid off for Barney, who is aiming for his second straight Gold Glove.
"I listened to everything he said," Barney recalled. "We worked hard together. He showed me how to turn double plays and laid the ground work for where I'm at now.
"He's just one of those guys that's so intense with his work and his preparation. I think it's stuff like that that rubbed off on me the most.
"We saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things when we were in the minor leagues together. It was very easy to play for him. What I took away the most was the work ethic and the attitude he instilled in me in how to play the game and how to approach the game every single day."