7.28.2009

Ryne Sandberg, 1990 Wonder Bread Stars

Name: Ryne Sandberg
Team: That's of no consequence to you
Positions: Second base, Fourth outfielder
Value of card: ?
Key 1989 stat: FBI case No. 621953
A season in hiding: In 1989, Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg witnessed a mafia hit in the Windy City. Fearing for his life, he went to the police and was placed in the witness-protection program. He pleaded for the opportunity to remain a major leaguer, but the FBI deemed it too risky. The federal government bought Sandberg's contract from the Cubs and sent him to Fargo, N.D., where he began work as a Home Depot garden department stock boy. But "Rhino" became despondent; he missed baseball. He knew he couldn't return to the big leagues, so he joined the FBI's witness-protection traveling softball team, the Unknown Wonder Stars. The team wanted to stay under the radar, so they wore no insignias on their jerseys or hats, and went by alternate names. Sandberg became "Rusty Slowenpop," batted third and left his beloved second base to become the all-important fourth outfielder. After Sandberg hit 102 home runs and drove in 234 runs in the 1989 season, the Wonder Stars started receiving attention. Mobsters in Chicago read newspaper stories about the exploits of "Rusty Slowenpop," and immediately recognized "The Fargo Thrasher" as Sandberg. Hitmen were sent to North Dakota, but federal agents ensnared them at the Wonder Series, law enforcement softball's version of the World Series. The Wonder Stars went on to win the Wonder Series thanks to "Slowenpop's" hitting, fielding and leadership. The mobsters were sentenced to jail, and Sandberg was able to return to the Cubs. Sadly, being on the longest-suffering franchise in professional sports, Sandberg yearned for the success he enjoyed with the Wonder Stars in the summer of 1989.

Card submitted by Nate Tabak

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1 comment:

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