Ryne Sandberg is retiring again. And this time, he says, it’s for good.
Sandberg, who has a better fielding percentage and more home runs than any second baseman in baseball history, announced Saturday he will call it quits at the end of the season, his 15th with the Chicago Cubs.
“Everybody has their time, and my time has come,” the 37-year-old said at a Wrigley Field news conference.
“I’m going to go in a different direction and spend more time with my family and kids. I’ve enjoyed myself here. I’ve grown up in Chicago and I think it’s perfect that I’m retiring as a Cub.
“This is very comfortable, it’s a comfortable day for me and a comfortable day for my family.”
Sandberg’s first retirement, on June 13, 1994, did not bring contentment.
He left a $7 million per season contract after 57 games, saying he was unhappy with his performance. He was also displeased with the way the team was being run at the time by then-general manager Larry Himes.
However, his failing marriage and his dispute over the custody of his two children also were factors.
On Saturday, his second wife and family were by his side outside the Cubs dugout when he made his announcement. He said he’d been thinking this would probably be his last season since spring training.
Sandberg, batting just .249 with eight homers and 43 RBIs in 96 games this season, returned last year with a .244 average, 25 homers and 92 RBIs after sitting out all of 1995.
This season has been just as miserable for the rest of the Cubs, who opened 0-14 and had lost nine straight before beating the Dodgers 5-1 Saturday. Sandberg hit two home runs in the game.
“This season has been very disappointing to all of us,” Sandberg admitted. “It’s been a tough year. But I feel very lucky I’ve been able to put on a uniform.
Sandberg’s career .989 fielding percentage at second base is the best ever. And he’s hit 273 of his 278 career homers at second, the most by anyone at that position.
Sandberg joined the Cubs in 1982 after playing 13 games the previous season with the Phillies, the organization that drafted him in 1978 out of Spokane’s North Central High School.
He made the All-Star team 10 times, won nine Gold Gloves and was the 1984 Most Valuable Player.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: By the numbers Sandberg’s statistics: Career Playoffs AB 8,258 39 R 1,305 9 H 2,350 15 HR 278 1 RBI 1,040 6 Avg. .285 .385 Career fielding percentage: .989. Note: Sandberg originally retired June 13, 1994.