Ryne Sandberg was one of baseball's elite players.
His enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2005 underscored that.
Now comes the big challenge.
With the dismissal of Charlie Manuel by the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, Sandberg was announced as an interim replacement, signaling that the final 42 games of this season could mean more about his big league managerial future than the six years he spent managing in the Minors in his audition for a big league opportunity.
There are no guarantees for Sandberg. After four years of managing in the Chicago Cubs' system, he resigned when he was passed over for the big league managerial job in favor of Mike Quade. Sandberg returned to the Phillies, the organization that originally signed him as a 20th-round Draft choice in 1978.
Sandberg managed the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs the past two years, and joined Manuel's staff as the third-base coach this season. He was a two-time Minor League Manager of the Year Award winner -- with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in 2010 and with the Iron Pigs in '11.
Now, however, he's at the big league level.
And the Hall of Fame resume as a player does not come with managerial guarantees.
Sandberg is the 59th player who was elected to the Hall of Fame to get a chance to manage, the 32nd of whom was voted into Cooperstown by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The other 17 were Veterans Committee selections.
Of the previous 58, there were 14 who managed less than a full season, including Tony Perez, who was dismissed after just 44 games into his managerial debut with Cincinnati in 1993, and managed 114 games in Florida after John Boles was let go 48 games into the 2001 season.
Only 22 of the Hall of Famers had a winning managerial record, and two of those were interim managers -- Bill Dickey (57-48 with the 1946 Yankees) and Tommy McCarthy (15-11 in two stints with the 1890 St. Louis Browns).
Forty-six of the 59 Hall of Famers were player-managers, although Frank Robinson (1975-76 Cleveland), the first African-American to manage in the big leagues, was the only Hall of Fame player to handle both roles since World War II.
Nineteen of the players managed pennant-winning teams, including Cap Anson, who managed teams to a first-place finish five times. Only 12 of the mangers won World Series championships. Frank Chance managed two champions, and the other 11 managed one each. Bob Lemon (New York Yankees, 1978) and Red Schoendienst (1967 Cardinals) are the only Hall of Fame players to manage World Series champions since 1948, and were the only ones who did not initially become player-managers.
Chance, who gained fame for his part in the Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double-play combination with the Cubs, had the highest winning percentage (.593) of the Hall of Fame players who managed, compiling a 946-648 record over 11 managerial seasons between 1905 and '23.
Manuel won more games (780) than any of the 51 others who have managed the Phillies, he led the team to five consecutive National League East titles (2007-11), guided the Phillies to two of the seven pennants they have claimed since the franchise's inception in 1890, and one of the team's two World Series championships ('08). The Phillies won their first World Series in 1980 with Dallas Green as the manager.
Manuel's 780 wins are 134 more than Gene Mauch, who ranks second on the all-time list. The only other men who managed the Phillies to more than 400 wins were Danny Ozark (594), Jim Fregosi (431) and Harry Wright (409).
The Dodgers went into Saturday having won 41 of their past 49 games -- the seventh time a team had won 41 of 49 games, and the first since the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals also did it in 1942, joining the 1888 and 1913 Giants, the A's in '31 and the Yankees in '41.
The Dodgers are three consecutive wins shy of matching the best 52-game stretch in history. The 1941 Yankees had a 44-8 run.
• Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer is an MLB-best 8-0 in starts after a Tigers loss.
• Clayton Kershaw is attempting to join former Dodgers lefty Sandy Koufax (1962-66) and Braves righty Greg Maddux (1993-95) as the only NL pitchers to win at least three consecutive ERA titles.
• Lefty Jorge De La Rosa doesn't buy the idea it's tough for pitchers at Coors Field. He is 33-12 with a 4.23 career ERA at Coors Field compared to 22-29 with a 4.97 ERA in all other big league parks.
Out of Left Field
Writer Bill Arnold points out that there have been seven times this season in which a pitcher has lost a no-hit bid in the eighth inning or later, including twice by Texas right-hander Yu Darvish, who was facing Houston both times. In his first start of the season, April 2, Darvish retired the first 26 batters of the game before Marwin Gonzalez singled. Last Monday, Darvish had a no-hitter for 7 1/3 innings before Carlos Corporan homered.
Others who have gone at least seven innings with a no-hitter this year are Anibal Sanchez of the Tigers, who allowed a one-out single to Joe Mauer of the Twins in the ninth on May 24; Julio Teheran of the Braves, who gave up a two-out single to Brandon Inge of the Pirates in the eighth inning on June 5; Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals, who allowed a one-out single to Nolan Arenado of the Rockies in the eighth on May 11; Clay Buchholz of Boston, who gave up a leadoff single to Kelly Johnson of the Rays in the eighth on April 14; and A.J. Burnett of the Pirates, who allowed a leadoff double to Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals in the eighth inning on April 17.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.