Citing Attitude, Sandberg Retires : Baseball: Cubs’ All-Star second baseman announces retirement because of a drop in performance, lack of motivation.

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Unhappy with his performance and devoid of motivation, second baseman Ryne Sandberg of the Chicago Cubs, a 10-time All-Star, retired Monday.

“I am not the type of person who can be satisfied with anything less than my very best effort and my very top performance,” he said during an emotional news conference at Wrigley Field.

“I am not the type of person who can leave my game at the ballpark and feel comfortable that my future is set regardless of my performance. And I am certainly not the type person who can ask the Cubs organization and Chicago Cubs fans to pay my salary when I am not happy with my mental approach and my performance.”


The 34-year-old Sandberg, batting .238 with 24 runs batted in, signed a four-year, $28-million contract before the 1993 season. He received a $3.5-million signing bonus and a ’93 salary of $5.1 million. His 1994 salary of $5.1 million will be prorated through Sunday. He is giving up $10.2 million in salary for 1995 and ’96 and a $5.9-million option for 1997.

A four-year, $2-million personal services contract that was to begin when Sandberg retired will be rewritten, but the financial details and Sandberg’s duties are still to be determined, the club said.

“Ryne is walking away from a lot of money because he didn’t feel he could live up to the standards he had set and it wasn’t fun for him anymore,” General Manager Larry Himes said. “It’s nice to hear that money isn’t the No. 1 priority with every player. I have great admiration for him.”

Sandberg’s announcement wasn’t a total surprise. Generally considered the best second baseman of his era, he said in spring training this would be his last season. He ripped the club’s lack of stability--only first baseman Mark Grace and shortstop Shawon Dunston remain from the 1991 team--and direction. He was known to be displeased by the free-agent departures of Andre Dawson and Greg Maddux and a managerial change he had lobbied against--Tom Trebelhorn replacing Jim Lefebvre.

The Cubs are last in the National League Central and have struggled from the start. Sandberg said his decision had nothing to do with the team’s poor performance, but agent Richie Bry said: “He’s financially secure and wants to spend more time with his family and more time playing golf. But if the Cubs were more competitive right now, who knows if he would have retired at this point?”

A nine-time Gold Glove winner, Sandberg reached the National League playoffs with the Cubs in 1984, when he hit 19 homers, drove in 84 runs and was the league’s most valuable player, and again in 1989, when he batted .290 with 30 homers and 104 runs, but each time the Cubs fell short of the World Series. He took a .290 career average into the season, but had only one hit in his last 28 at-bats when he retired, sitting out the weekend games against the Dodgers after telling Trebelhorn he was thinking about retirement.


“I just feel like I didn’t have what it takes to bounce back,” he said. “I’ve always played the game for fun and enjoyment, and it wasn’t there anymore. I want to be the best player I can be, but with all those feelings and emotions not there, I found that I’m not able to do that.”

A broken wrist and a dislocated finger cut into his 1993 season, but Sandberg said injuries weren’t a factor in his decision.

“Physically, I feel pretty good,” he said. “But it takes more than physical ability to go out and play major league baseball. And with the standards I have for myself, it definitely takes more. I waited two months for the drive to come back, but it didn’t.”

Grace said the news was “an absolute shock.” He said Sandberg was struggling, but did not seem upset. “I’m shocked by it, I’m saddened by it, and I know there’s got to be more to it,” Grace said.