Saturday, September 17, 2011

This Day in History September 18, 1999

All right, this will be one of the few times I talk about sports history.  Possibly the only time I mention baseball.  Amazingly, I actually know who this person is, and I remember this.  Even though I really do not follow sports at all.  I try to know just enough sports to make my students believe I know a little bit, but that's it.  Usually.

Sammy Sosa was born November 12, 1968 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.  He was the fifth of seventh children, and his father passed away when he was seven.  Because he could not afford baseball materials, he made a glove out of milk cartons, a bat out of a tree branch, and a ball out of a rolled sock and tape.  He was described as being skinny and malnourished, even years later when he was recruited by professional teams.

Sosa picked up a real bat for the first time at the age of 14, and he played for small leagues in Santo Domingo.  At the age of 16, the Texas Rangers recruited him and gave him a signing bonus of $3500.  And guess where he sent most of that money?  To his mother!  He then used some of what was left of the bonus ($200) to buy himself a treat--a used bike.

His first season in 1989 was pretty bad--1 home run in 84 bats.   He was traded to the Chicago White Sox in the middle of the season (a choice later regretted by the general manager of the Texas Rangers).  His struggles continued during his three years with them--averaging 9 runs per season.   He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1992.

This is when things began to change for Sosa.  All he ever knew was baseball, and he wanted to support his family.  So he worked very hard to perfect his game.  In his first full year with the Cubs, he scored 33 home runs and was well on his way to becoming an all-star.  Eventually, this led to a 4-year 42 million dollar contract.  Little did anyone know that Sosa would be making history very soon.

For 37 years, Roger Maris held the record for the most home runs in the Major League during one season--61 home runs.  In 1998, St. Louis Cardinals Mark McGuire scored 62 home runs.  And in that same year, Sosa tied that record.  It was a very emotional time for Sosa, and he even received a call from the son of the man with the original record.  And Sosa did not stop there--he went on to score 66 homers total that season!
He became a superstar, especially in his native Dominican Republic.  He also was named the MLB's most valuable player by a landslide vote.

On this day in 1999, Sosa accomplished another great feat.  He became the only player to hit 60 home runs in two different Major League seasons.  He was even more excited over this record.  Before Sosa, the only player that had only gotten close to that record was Babe Ruth who hit 59 home runs in 1921 and 60 in 1927.

Now, I could go on and on about his continued records and amazing feats, but if you are interested in learning more, check out these sites:

The best thing I read about Sosa was that he was happily married and has 4 children.  How nice to hear about a young "superstar" who has a happy marriage!  Yes, I realize he is in his 40's, but I still think that makes him young!


  1. I remember him breaking the record.


  2. I didn't know about his background. Inspiring story!


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