Countdown to Spring Training – 23 Days

Twenty three days. Just over 3 weeks. We can do this! Soon we will be hearing the pop of the ball in the glove, as first workouts start on the 13th for many teams. And I can’t wait to get down there to see some games! On with the countdown!

scan0005Ryne Sandberg (HOF 2005) is recognized as one of the great second basemen of all time. He played most of his career with the Chicago Cubs, retiring with a lifetime batting average of .285 and collected 2.386 hits. A 10 time All Star and a 9 time Golden Glove winner, Sandberg also was the NL MVP in 1984. In 1990, Sandberg lead the league in homeruns with his 40 dingers, becoming only the third second baseman ever to hit 40 or more homeruns in a season. In fact, Sandberg hit 25 or more homeruns in season 6 times during his career, the most times by a second baseman in major league history.

At the first attempted night game by the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, on August 8, 1988, Morganna the Kissing Bandit attempted to nail Sandberg, but Chicago’s finest nailed her first. Nonetheless, Sandberg knocked the next pitch out of the park, to thunderous applause. Unfortunately, the game, like her sprint, ended up a washout.

Sandberg’s number 23 has been retired by the Chicago Cubs. This card is from my personal collection.

A close second for the all time number 23’s would be Tigers great Willie Horton. scan0004Horton began his career with the Tigers as a September call up in 1963, and played the better part of the next 14 seasons with Detroit. He later played with Texas, Cleveland, Oakland, Toronto and Seattle before retiring in 1980. He was a 4 time All Star, was on the Tigers World Series winning team in 1968, and was voted 1979 Comeback Player of the Year. When he retired at the end of the 1980 season, Horton’s 325 homeruns placed him 6th all time in the AL for a right handed hitter. A statue of Horton can be found outside Comerica Park in Detroit, and his number 23 became the 6th number retired by the Tigers. This scan is of his 1972 card in my personal collection.

Thanks for checking in on day 23. We are getting closer. We can do this!

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