PITTSBURGH -- On Friday, Ryne Sandberg returns to Wrigley Field with the Phillies. The former Cubs second baseman is now Philadelphia's manager, and this will be his second trip to his former home ballpark as a skipper.
Another former Cub, Kevin Orie, remembers when Sandberg was his teammate on Chicago back in 1997 and some souvenirs the second baseman gave him.
"I either got sent down or went to [Triple-A] Iowa on rehab, or both, but when I got to Iowa, I unloaded my bag and I'm getting ready to strap it on and I pulled out my cleats and here were his wristbands, his baseball cards," said Orie, now a member of the Pirates' radio broadcast team. "That was all in my shoes, along with some Bazooka gum. It was funny. It was such a good laugh -- nobody wants to be at Triple-A for rehab or if you're sent down. At the right time, you get a little chuckle."
That was typical Sandberg humor, Orie said.
"I could play with eight Rynos on the field any day of the week," Orie said. "We had the same agent. We had some stuff in common, except for the Hall of Fame. I can't draw that comparison."
Orie said it was easy to play with Sandberg.
"Fundamentally, he was as sound as anybody," Orie said. "He had really great hands. His top hand was something that jumped out at me. It's all about the glove, but that top hand, you learn, is a second glove for you and he was really good at it. You see a lot of bad hops that look routine because of his hands."
Sandberg was generous as well.
"He gave me a few of his bats, they were Rawlings, and let's just say they were Hall of Fame-type bats and real good wood," Orie said. "As for mine, if I had a dozen bats, nine were pretty good. And that's in the big leagues. You go to the Minors and zero were good. I think I ended up hitting a majority of my home runs with his bats. You'd think I would've been smart enough to switch, but I didn't. I think it was because the barrel was a little skinnier than my model."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.