Sweet Homes Chicago: Ryne Sandberg

February 25, 2010 5:45:33 AM PST
Number 23 for the Chicago Cubs, Ryne Sandberg is a Baseball Hall of Famer, Gold Glove award winner, MVP and the list goes on. This most accomplished athlete is so down to earth he and his gracious wife, Margaret, invited ABC7's Roz Varon to their Chicago home.

Sandberg is recognized as one of the best second basemen of all time. His list of accomplishments reads like a who's-who of baseball, culminated by his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. Although Sandberg retired from the Cubs in 1997, he and wife have always kept a home in Chicago.

"We still have our roots here and come back here to visit our kids, to visit our grandkids," said Ryne Sandberg.

"Ryne and I don't like to have anything too pretentious because we're not like that; we're just normal people, when you look around the house you'll see that we're just like everybody else," said Margaret Sandberg.

Their Streeterville condo is as warm and inviting as can be. Built in the 1920s, the Sandbergs' decor maintains much of that vintage charm, from the hardwood floors to original doors and fixtures. They even have a 1920's Brunswick pool table.

"The pool table came up the fire escape, which is very narrow out back because the elevators are small here," Ryne Sandberg said.

In the kitchen, they took down the walls from the butler's pantry and maids' quarters to keep the room open, but there's one thing they kept.

"They had the buttons you pushed, and we still have them in the bedroom, where you can push a button to call, and the kids would try it every now and then. And I'm like, 'Yeah right, I'm not coming," said Margaret Sandberg.

Every room is filled with family photos, the latest showing off their beautiful grandchildren.

"We like the kids to always feel welcome here, and when they come in, we thing they feel that, seeing all the pictures," Ryne Sandberg said.

As it is with their family, their home is the perfect blend of this delightful couple. She buys anything "Rhino," from pictures to collectibles. He got other decorations because of her taste.

Even the story of how they hired their decorator is sweet.

"Ryne and I met her the first time, and we went to her restaurant in Phoenix. And we have a song that's our song from "The Lion King," and the song came on during our meeting and, it sounds so cheesy, and we were like, 'It's meant to be,'" Margaret Sandberg said.

Yet, throughout the house, the incredible collection of Ryne Sandberg's baseball memorabilia is a constant reminder that you're walking with one of baseball's elite.

The trophy case is amazing. It holds all nine Gold Gloves he won and pictures, one with Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, and Ernie Banks, taken one week before the Cubs' first night game.

There's another picture with the All-Century team, with Cubs greats from 1945 to the present. One is of Sandberg in 1984, his breakout year, with 200 hits, 114 runs and a National League MVP award.

And in one photo, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proclaims Ryne Sandberg Day in Chicago.

"I read in the paper prior to the meeting he just had a grandson, so we stopped and got a little Cubs outfit, which got a little bit of a chuckle, a brief chuckle, out of the White Sox fan," Ryne Sandberg said.

And what's his favorite piece of baseball history?

"One of the things that really caps off everything is the replica flag that the Cubs gave me that I have nicely framed, which still flies above Wrigley Field," he said. "And I think that signifies a lot."

Currently, Sandberg only spends a few months a year in the Chicago home, managing in the minors, but that could change.

"Managing is a lot different than playing," he said. "There's a lot to it, and I'm very pleased and surprised by how much I enjoy it.

"Hopefully, one day I'll spend more time at this home, maybe 10 months of the year. That's the next goal," he said.