Cubs legend Sandberg to get statue at Wrigley in 2024

January 14th, 2023

CHICAGO -- When  was asked to sit in the audience at Cubs Convention on Saturday morning, the Hall of Fame second baseman was confused. Usually at this type of event, he was either on stage or somewhere signing autographs.

"A little bit fishy there," Sandberg said with a smile.

Soon enough, Sandberg learned why he was invited to attend the Ricketts family panel. During the conversation, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts announced to the sea of fans in the Sheraton Grand Chicago ballroom that Sandberg would be the recipient of the next statue outside Wrigley Field.

Sandberg's family found out about the honor on Friday night, but kept it a secret from the Cubs' legend. That made Saturday's announcement a true surprise for Sandberg, whose likeness will be immortalized in statue row in Gallagher Way in 2024.

After learning the news, Sandberg smiled when recalling the statue unveiling for fellow Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins outside Wrigley Field last summer. Jenkins' was the fifth statue added, alongside greats Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and broadcaster Harry Caray.

"On a great day, a sunny day, sat right up there and watched Fergie," Sandberg said. "What's pretty neat about it is I knew or know all the statues that are there. From Harry Caray to Ernie Banks and Billy Williams and Fergie and Santo.

"I was able to be around all those guys a lot. So to join them -- kind of join a team of the statues -- it's pretty awesome”

Before the revelation of Sandberg’s future statue, the Cubs announced Friday that Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston would be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame this year. And during the National Hall of Fame ceremonies this summer, Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes will be inducted as the 2023 Ford C. Frick Award winner.

That has made this a celebratory weekend for those key members of Cubs history.

"This is one of my favorite Cubs Conventions already," Sandberg said. "I got to spend an hour and a half with Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston. We spent 11 years together. Them going into the Cubs Hall of Fame, that's awesome for them. We were talking about at-bats and facing Nolan Ryan yesterday and laughing."

Over the course of his 15 seasons with the Cubs, Sandberg made 10 All-Star teams, won nine Gold Glove Awards, picked up seven Silver Slugger Awards and was the National League's MVP in 1984. It all added up to being inducted into the National Hall of Fame in '05.

Since Sandberg's retirement in 1997, the Cubs have had 15 Opening Day second basemen in 25 seasons.

In Cubs history, Sandberg ranks third in runs scored (1,316), fourth in games (2,151), hits (2,385), doubles (403) and stolen bases (344), and fifth in homers (282) and total bases (3,786). He topped 30 stolen bases five times, belted 25 of more homers in six seasons and scored at least 100 runs seven times.

Sandberg stole a career-high 54 bases in 1985, led the NL in homers with 40 in '90 and hit .385 in his 10 career postseason games for the Cubs. His signature game came on June 23, 1984, when he had seven RBIs and five hits, including two late game-tying homers off Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, to help the Cubs beat the rival Cardinals, 12-11.

"Roy Hobbs, The Natural, would be pleased by Sandberg's performance today," legendary broadcaster Bob Costas proclaimed on NBC's airing of the game that night.

That all-around style of play -- power, speed and defense -- made it difficult for Sandberg to decide what kind of action shot should be used for his statue.

"That might be hard," he said. "Because I was all about equal offense and defense. Equally. That was my goal -- both. To be the best at offense and defense, so I don't know if I'll be able to pick a pose. But, it'll get done. It's supposed to be a fun process."

Sandberg was asked if he ever let his mind wander to thoughts about possibly being honored with a statue.

"I heard it from fans a little bit," he said. "I just kind of go about my business and enjoy everything else and see what happens. But did I think about it? Yeah, I'd have to say I thought about it."

He then quipped that the vacant statue bases outside Wrigley may have been a clue.

"I saw a couple empty ones over there," Sandberg said with a smirk. "That was a little giveaway there."