Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg's biggest regret as a player was failing to lead the Chicago Cubs to a World Series.
But he hopes to complete his quest as a manager.
"That's one thing that's missing on my resume: a trip to the World Series and a world championship," the 50-year-old Sandberg, in his first season as manager of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs (14-17), said Tuesday before his team's 15-10 win over the 51s (15-18) at Cashman Field. "That's one thing I'm striving for now in this capacity. It's something I think about all the time.
"I didn't experience that, so it kind of keeps me going."
In his fourth year as a minor league manager in the Cubs organization, Sandberg is expected to be one of the front-runners to replace Chicago manager Lou Piniella when his contract expires after this season.
"I'm not doing this to be a lifelong minor league instructor or manager," Sandberg said.
After retiring in 1997, Sandberg worked for the Cubs as a spring training instructor for eight years.
But it wasn't until 2005, when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and had his No. 23 retired by the Cubs, that he decided to pursue a more prominent role in the organization.
"It was a yearlong reflection on baseball and what it meant to me," Sandberg said. "I wanted to get back in."
He expressed interest in becoming Chicago's manager after the 2006 season, when Dusty Baker was fired, but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry felt he needed some experience and hired Piniella instead.
Sandberg compiled a 202-215 record in two seasons at Single-A Peoria (2007-08) and last year at Double-A Tennessee before making the jump to Triple A this season.
A 20th-round draft pick of the Phillies in 1978, Sandberg enjoyed a similar rise as a player, ascending a level in each of his first four professional seasons before making his major league debut with Philadelphia in 1981.
Traded to the Cubs before the 1982 season, Sandberg established himself over the next 16 years as arguably the best second baseman ever. He batted .285 with 282 homers, 277 of them as a second baseman, the second most at the position all time behind Jeff Kent.
Sandberg earned nine straight Gold Gloves, made 10 consecutive All-Star appearances and was named the National League Most Valuable Player in 1984, when he led the Cubs to the playoffs for the first time since 1945.
Mild-mannered as a player, Sandberg was ejected only twice in 2,164 games. But he has often erupted as a manager. He was suspended twice and ejected from seven games in his first two seasons alone and has been tossed from one game this year.
"It's part of the job, along with not being able to take out frustration with my bat or make a defensive play," he said. "I'm not bashful about standing up for my players."
Sandberg hopes to join Ted Williams and Frank Robinson as Hall of Fame players who became successful managers. Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who worked with Iowa's players before the game, said he's on the right track.
"I know he's doing something right because every player was out here early on his own. That's impressive and something that goes unnoticed," said Maddux, a longtime Las Vegan who played with Sandberg with the Cubs. "When the players beat the bus to the ballpark, he's doing something right.
"He knows baseball. He played it as well as anybody and he understands it as well as anybody."
Sandberg hopes to become a major league manager with the Cubs but isn't averse to accepting the same job with another team.
"If not there, I just hope to do it at the major league level somewhere," he said.
■ NOTE -- Maddux, who's working part time for the Cubs this year as an assistant to Hendry, said he's relishing his retirement. "Whoever said retirement is hard, I don't get it," he said. "It's pretty easy. I'm enjoying it."
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or at 702-383-0354.