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Happy 20th Anniversary: Ryno's unexpected (1st) retirement

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

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The 1994 season is known for several things -- such as the Expos being awesome, Tony Gwynn's batting average (.394) and Matt Williams' home run total (43 in 112 games). Unfortunately, one of them isn't the World Series, as a strike ended the season.

Perhaps lost in the shuffle for some is the fact that Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg unexpectedly called it a career in the middle of the season. It was June 13, 1994 when Ryno announced that he was retiring. He was only 34 years old and had hit .309/.359/.412 the previous season.

Still, in '94 he was hitting just .238/.312/.390 and was probably set to miss his first All-Star Game since 1983. In his book, he said the following on his first retirement:

The reason I retired is simple: I lost the desire that got me ready to play on an everyday basis for so many years. Without it, I didn't think I could perform at the same level I had in the past, and I didn't want to play at a level less than what was expected of me by my teammates, coaches, ownership, and most of all, myself.

He'd get that desire back less than two years later, because he came back in 1996 and hit 25 homers for the Cubs. He'd retire after the 1997 season, closing the book on a Hall of Fame career. Here's his Hall of Fame video biography:

As the video mentioned, Sandberg retired with the most homers ever as a second baseman. He's since been passed by Jeff Kent.

The top five (again, this only includes home runs while playing second base):

1. Kent, 351
2. Sandberg, 277
3. Bret Boone, 251
4. Lou Whitaker, 239
5. Dan Uggla, 232

In all, Sandberg hit .285/.344/.452 (114 OPS+) with 2386 hits, 403 doubles, 76 triples, 282 homers, 1061 RBI, 1318 runs and 344 stolen bases. He was a 10-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glover, seven-time Silver Slugger winner and the 1984 NL MVP.

And 20 years ago today, he (temporarily) retired from baseball. Happy Anniversary, Ryno.

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