What's behind a name?
Despite being a Hall of Famer and one of the best second baseman in baseball history, Ryne Sandberg still has people butcher his name, saying "Ryan," quite often. In choosing their second son's first name, Sandberg's parents set their son up to be a baseball player, apparently.
Sandberg was named after former Yankees all-star pitcher Ryne Duren. His older brother, Del, was named after Phillies outfielder Del Ennis.
Since the Phillies are 12 games under .500 with 18 games remaining in the season, you could say it's a little slow in the news department on the beat, so Sandberg's unique first name became a topic of conversation on Wednesday afternoon. Sandberg obliged the press corps by telling the story of the two times he has met Ryne Duren, the first in Clearwater as a minor leaguer, the second at Wrigley Field as a former MVP.
"As a minor leaguer, probably ‘79, second year in pro ball, Ryne Duren was making the rounds through the minor leagues talking about alcoholism and things like that," Sandberg said of Duren, who also pitched for the Phillies in his 10-year big league career. "He actually came and spoke to the minor league system and the Carpenter Complex and I was right there in the room. Afterwards, I went up and introduced myself. ‘Ryne, I’m named after you. Ryne Sandberg. Nice to meet you.’ I’m 19 years old. People mispronounced my name, yours is the one responsible for that. That was cool.
"So then it’s probably 1989 or 1990, he was making rounds for something through Chicago, so now I’m eight years into the big leagues and all that. I’m taking batting practice and he wanders up to the batting cage and goes ‘Hey Ryne remember me? I’m Ryne Duren, you were named after me.’ Tables turned a little bit. He came up all bashful. It was pretty cool."
The late, great Harry Caray, by the way, is responsible for the nickname "Ryno."
"I like it," Sandberg said. "It’s Ryne with an ‘O’ on it. Better than Ryan."
Ryno is actually Sandberg's second baseball nickname. He was called "Sandy" as a minor leaguer in the Phillies system in the late 70s/early 80s.
Like the female lead in "Grease?"
"I hope it had nothing to do with Grease," Sandberg said.
Sandberg, a 20th round pick of the Phillies in 1978, officially signed his first pro contract with the team on June 15, 1978. A day later, "Grease" was released in theaters.