Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire set the summer of 1998 on fire with an epic home-run chase that saw the St. Louis Cardinals slugger eventually break Roger Maris’ record for most dingers in a single season with 70 while the Chicago Cubs outfielder hit 66.
Sosa would hit 60 or more home runs three times in his career and won the National League MVP in 1998 despite not leading the league in homers.
It’s what came after that tarnished Sosa’s reputation. Sosa used a corked bat in a game in 2003 and was wrapped up in Major League Baseball’s steroids scandal, though he maintained he never used “illegal performance-enhancing drugs” while he played.
Ryne Sandberg spoke briefly about Sosa’s standing with the organization. Sandberg will be receiving a statue outside Wrigley Field in the summer of 2004. The Hall of Fame second baseman told ESPN he supported the organization’s decision not to immortalize Sosa in the same manner.
“For me, playing the game the right way, with respect, was always what I was taught in the minor leagues,” Sandberg told the outlet. “That was my Hall of Fame speech. I think I said it 28 times. And there was a little problem with the way that Sammy played the game. If that’s a roadblock, that’s a roadblock.”
Sosa was on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot for his entry to Cooperstown in 2022 – his 10th and final year on that ballot. He received 18.5% of the vote. Any prospective new inductees need at least 75% of the vote to get into the Hall of Fame.
Current Hall of Famers could end up voting Sosa in but he’s not eligible for that until 2024.
Sosa played 18 years in the majors. He hit 609 home runs with 1,667 RBI.