I hadn’t yet turned three years old in the summer of 1984, and, in truth, my Cubs fandom would not really become cemented until the 1989 Cubs made a playoff run.
So I don’t have any personal memories of the nationally-televised rivalry game with playoff implications between the Cubs and Cardinals at Wrigley Field on June 23 of 1984. And yet, I know that game as well as any that’s happened in the history of the Cubs. You probably do, too.
It was The Sandberg Game.
Trailing the Cardinals 7-1 and 9-3 at different times, the Cubs stormed back to pull within one run in the bottom of the 9th. That’s when a young second baseman named Ryne Sandberg clubbed a homer off of Cardinals closer Bruce Sutter to tie the game. An inning later, after the Cardinals had scored two in the top of the 10th, Sandberg did it again:
The Cubs went on to win the game the next inning, Sutter would go on to save a league-leading 45 games, Sandberg would go on to win the MVP, and the Cubs would go on to win the NL East.
And we would go on to remember, talk about, and enjoy The Sandberg Game for decades to come.
I don’t know that “The Sandberg Game” was the genesis of all “The So-And-So Game” monikers, but I do believe it has become that for Cubs fans. We love to do it, sometimes seriously (The Kyle Schwarber Game), sometimes jokingly (The Taylor Teagarden Game). It’s something of a fun gift, from Ryne Sandberg, that keeps on giving.