Ryne Sandberg suited up for 15 home openers for the Cubs as a player, but his 16th was quite different than the others. Sandberg was a part of history Friday, managing against his former team for the first time as a manager — with the Philadelphia Phillies — and the 100th Wrigley Field opener.
Even though he wasn't sporting Cubbie blue, Sandberg said it brought back memories to take in another Opening Day at Wrigley.
"It's a special, special day for me to be here just for the festivities and memories of Opening Days here. The fan base and the excitement of Opening Day brought every year with the optimism of 'This is gonna be the year,'" said Sandberg, following the Phillies' 7-2 win vs. the Cubs.
"I thought that every Opening Day I played in, that was the year, regardless of who was on the roster, who my teammates were. That was just the mentality that I had and was just hoping to get to the postseason every year and it all started with Opening Day here. It's a special day."
Sandberg's new home is now in Philadelphia, but he admits Chicago holds a special place in his heart.
"This is a home for me," he said. "This was a place I enjoyed playing in. Every game on television was a big deal to me. I knew that everybody back home was watching and that really got me fired up to play every game and that brought the most out of my abilities."
Although Sandberg looked forward to playing at Wrigley Field on Opening Day as a player, the Hall of Famer wasn't exactly the biggest fan of the month it was played in.
"I enjoyed the day games and saw the ball well here. Any time I was struggling at the plate, Wrigley Field usually fixed it for me just getting back to home, except for in April," Sandberg said. "In April, I was a .230 lifetime hitter that was because of here and the high grass and the wind blowing in, but I always looked forward to May 1st and the warmer weather and little different winds blowing and then things usually came around, but I had a hard time playing in April here."