Ryne Sandberg (1981-1997)


 “[When you] hit a home run – put your head down, drop the bat, run the bases, because the name on the front [of your jersey] is more – a lot more – important than the name on the back.” - Ryne Sandberg

One of the most beloved players in Chicago Cubs history, Ryne Sandberg played the sport hard and clean, always respecting the game and its traditions.  He was a solid fielder, winning nine Gold Gloves.  He broke Joe Morgan’s consecutive games at second without an error in 1989.  He won the MVP award in 1984, leading the Cubs to the playoffs.  He joins Brady Anderson and Barry Bonds as the only players to have both a 40 home run and 50 stolen base season in their careers.  When Sandberg retired in 1997, he owned the career record for most home runs by a second baseman.

Rod Carew (1967-1985)

Sir Rodney

“He’s the only guy I know who can go four for three.”- Alan Bannister

Rod Carew’s bat seemed like a magic wand – seemingly every time he flicked it, he got a hit.  He won seven batting titles, was a perennial All-Star, and was considered the best bunter of his generation.  In 1977, he fell eight hits shy of hitting .400, finishing with a .388 average, the highest mark since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.  He was also a great base runner, stealing home seventeen times in his career.  Although never a great fielder, he did collect over 3,000 hits in his career.  Spending most of his time with the Minnesota Twins, he left the Twin Cities when he believed Twins’ ownership was not committed to winning.  He spent his last years with the California Angels.

Napoleon Lajoie (1896-1916)


“[H]e was fluent and unhurried as a second baseman, with an insouciance belying the carefully calculated movements of his big frame.” -Tom Meany

Nap Lajoie was baseball’s greatest star before the arrival of Ty Cobb.  He played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Athletics and for twelve years with the Cleveland Indians.    For several seasons in the first part of his playing days, foul balls were not counted as strikes, helping him amass a .426 average in 1901.  Even when the rules changed, Lajoie continued to bat well over .300, ending his career with a .339 average and 3,242 hits, a mark only eclipsed at the time by Honus Wagner.  Contemporaries marveled at his offense, but his defense was extraordinary, and he easily is one of the top fielders of all time at his position. Lajoie was in the second group of inductees to the Hall of Fame.

Bill Mazeroski (1956-1972)


“The impressive thing about Maz was that he fielded everything perfectly. I backed him up for 10 years and never got a ball.”-Bill Virdon

Bill Mazeroski will forever be remembered as the slayer of the fearsome New York Yankees, when he clubbed the only walk off home run in a seventh game of a World Series.  Maz’s Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series in seven games despite being outscored and out hit by wide margins in that Fall Classic.  But Mazeroski was never a great offensive player.  If anyone made the Hall of Fame for defense, it was him.  He is easily the best fielder to play second base.  Despite a stocky build, he exhibited cat-like reflexes and his double play relay earned him the nickname “No Hands” – when turning a double play he got rid of the ball so fast, it was as though he never touched the ball.  On his retirement, nearly every record for fielding at second belonged to him.

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