SI Vault
 
City of Stars
Steve Rushin
July 27, 1992
In the town of Spokane, three boys—Mark Rypien, Ryne Sandberg and John Stockton—grew up within a few miles and a few years of one another. They have risen to fame and fortune in the pros but remain tied to home in very different ways
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 27, 1992

City Of Stars

In the town of Spokane, three boys—Mark Rypien, Ryne Sandberg and John Stockton—grew up within a few miles and a few years of one another. They have risen to fame and fortune in the pros but remain tied to home in very different ways

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Always on display in a jeweler's glass case. How long before you would tire of looking at life through the fingerprints and the fogged glass?

Ryne Sandberg was last in Spokane for the burial of his oldest brother. Lane Sandberg was 42. He lived in the house on West Augusta Avenue in which he and Ryne and the rest of the children were raised. He died in that house on the 10th of February.

Elizabeth Sandberg sits at home, in her house in Brewster, speaking above the low notes of a piano being tuned in the next room. "Lane had a hell of a tough life, to tell you the truth," she says. "He had epilepsy since the day he was born. When I saw him last Christmas, he was gray and stooped and tired. I thought then, There is death walking."

A month and a half later, Lane died on the floor next to his bed, during an epileptic seizure at eight o'clock in the morning. Sorry is not a word that comforts her, says his mother. But she certainly takes solace in her family. "I am proud of all of my children," she says. "I have a wonderful family."

Harry Caray doesn't shout their names, but her son Del teaches high school in Olympia, Wash., and her daughter, Maryl, works for a TV station in Seattle. And Elizabeth's son Ryne—she looks in on him nearly every day, watching almost every Cub game on the team's cable-TV superstation. The schedule is attached to the fridge.

She can see her reflection in the TV set. After all, it was Elizabeth who was the athlete in high school—Sandy played the tuba. She was from Vermont. He was from Minnesota. During World War II, Sandy had an Army buddy whose fiancee was a close friend of Elizabeth's. Staff Sergeant Derwent D. Sandberg wrote Elizabeth a letter. She wrote back; it was the patriotic thing to do. Two years later they were married. The Sandbergs settled in Spokane because a job was available there when Sandy finished mortuary school. They settled in the house that now stands a block and a half from a ball field that is named for their youngest son.

"I'm very pleased," says the boy's mother, "that the good Lord gave him talent."

Terry Rypien used to stand at the front door and watch her children enter West-view Elementary School directly across the street. From her living room she could see her children in their classrooms. From her couch she could watch them at recess. She went to work at the hospital each night when her husband came home, came home and filled the house with his presence.

Bob Rypien could fill the neighbors' houses, too, fill them with his headlights. Curfew was midnight for Mark and Tim on weekend nights during high school. When Mark was watching television on the wrong side of 12 at a girlfriend's house, Bob pulled his car in front of the girl's picture window and froze his son in the glare. Mark could only sit there on the couch, like road kill with a remote control in his hand.

"His word meant everything," says Mark. "You didn't blow it off."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8