Sammy Sosa

Sammy Sosa

Slammin' Sammy, Say it Ain't Sosa
November 12, 1968
165 lbs
Major League Debut:
6-16-1989 with TEX
Allstar Selections:
1995 SS, 1998 ML, 1998 MVP, 1998 RC, 1998 SS, 1999 Hank A, 1999 SS, 2000 SS, 2001 SS, 2002 SS

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire captivated the nation during their Home Run Chase of 1998, which ended with Sammy at 66 and McGwire at 70. It was the first of four straight seasons of 50 or more homers for Sosa, who has topped the 60 mark three times. The likable Sosa won the 1998 National League Most Valuable Player Award and grew to become a huge fan favorite, not only in Chicago, but throughout America and in his home country, the Dominican Republic. In the first game played by the Cubs after the terrible events of September 11, 2001, Sosa belted a home run and carried a small U.S. flag around the bases. His trademark hop and his kiss and heart-touching ritual after hitting a home run, have been imitated by kids all over the globe. Thanks to his infectious smile and positive attitude, Sosa has become the greatest ambassador of the game since Cal Ripken Jr. Early in 2003, Sosa became the first Latin American player, and only the 18th overall, to hit 500 home runs. Two events shifted Sosa from a great ambassador to another player with a *, in 2009 the New York Times reported Sosa was on the list of 104 players who tested positive for Performance enhancers, and in 2005 Sosa was suspended for using a corked bat. 

Biographical Information

Sammy Sosa hit 609 home runs during an 18-year major league career. He was one of the baseball's biggest stars during that time.

Sosa was signed as a free agent for the Texas Rangers by scouts Omar Minaya and Amado Dinzey on July 30, 1985. He broke into major league baseball at a very young age, getting 183 at-bats in 1989 at the age of 20. That first year, he was traded from the Texas Rangers to the Chicago White Sox in mid-season.

As a young White Sox player, he was speedy in the outfield, and there was speculation that he might become a Gold Glove center fielder. However, Sosa's ambitions were elsewhere (with his hitting), and as his home runs increased he became known as an inconsistent fielder. At the age of 21, he hit 15 home runs with the White Sox, but also stole 32 bases and had 10 triples.

When he hit only .203 for the White Sox at the age of 22, they let him go across town to the Chicago Cubs, where Sosa's predilection for the long ball fit in well with the cozy confines of Wrigley Field. At the age of 24, still a very young age for a major leaguer, he hit 33 home runs for the 1993 Cubs. In 1996, he made a run at Roger Maris's record with 40 home runs in 124 games before he was injured.

He is best known for the four seasons from 1998 to 2001 when he hit over 60 home runs three times. Although he hit "only" 50 in 2000, that total was enough to win the home run title, while the other three years his 60+ totals garnered him second place. He also led the league with 49 home runs in 2002.

On June 3, 2003, Sosa was ejected from a Chicago Cubs-Tampa Bay Devil Rays game in the first inning when umpires discovered he had been using a corked bat. Major League Baseball confiscated and tested 76 of Sosa's other bats after his ejection; all were found to be clean, with no cork. Sosa would later state that he had accidentally used the corked bat, which he claimed he only used during batting practice and/or home run contests. On June 6, Sosa was suspended for eight games, but the suspension was reduced to seven games after appeal on June 11. The incident caused some to question whether Sosa's 505 home runs (up to that point) had been fairly hit.[1]

After 13 years with the Cubs, it was clear that his batting average and slugging percentage were slipping, so the Cubs let Sosa go to the Baltimore Orioles after the 2004 season. Hitting only .221 without much power (only 14 home runs) in 2005, he was booed much of the season and was let go by the team in December. Sosa turned down a Washington Nationals offer of a minor-league contract offer and an invitation to spring training in January and a second offer by the club for a non-guaranteed contract worth $500,000 in Febuary. Sosa decided to turn down the second offer on February 15, 2006, making it appear likely that he would fall just short of 600 home runs.

Although Sosa was an immensely popular and likeable player, he was surrounded by questions about whether his achievements were fairly won. During his career, no proof ever appeared that Sosa took steroids, but fans were astounded at the way in which the slender and speedy Sosa of the early 1990's turned into the monstrously muscular home-run hitter of the late 1990s.

His lifetime on-base percentage of .345 is one of the lowest among major home run hitters of his time.

[edit] An Unlikely Comeback

Early in 2007, Sosa signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers. It provided for a base salary of $500,000, plus a possible $2.2 million based on incentives. His contract included an additional $200,000 if he is named the American League Comeback Player of the Year for 2007. Sosa said the year off in 2006 would not affect his hitting, comparing himself to Frank Thomas, and even the great Ted Williams, who missed significant time due to World War II and the Korean War.

Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo said that Sammy's poor 2005 season was due to bad mechanics at the plate, and that he could help him with that. Sosa made the team in spring training, serving as the team's designated hitter. He began the season needing 12 more homers to become the 5th man in MLB history with 600. He reached that landmark on June 20, with a blast against the Chicago Cubs in an interleague game. The pitcher was Jason Marquis, who was wearing 21, the number Sosa had worn with the Cubs.

Sosa holds the MLB record for home runs in the most different stadiums, having hit dingers in 45 ballparks, the latest of which came on May 17, 2007, off Casey Fossum of the Devil Rays at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, where the Rays played one series against the Rangers. Ken Griffey Jr. and Fred McGriff are tied for second with 43 different stadiums.

For the season, Sosa's Adjusted OPS+ (a measure of a player's offensive production) was only 102, compared to 100 for the average player. However, in spite of his low batting average and on-base percentage, he led the Rangers with 21 home runs and was second on the team to Michael Young with 92 RBI. However, with the Rangers in a rebuilding phase, he was not invited back for the 2008 season.

In June 2009, the New York Times reported that Sosa's name was among the 104 major leaguers who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2003 season.

 Notable Achievements

  • 7-time NL All-Star (1995, 1998-2002 & 2004)
  • NL MVP (1998)
  • 6-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1995 & 1999-2002)
  • 3-time NL Runs Scored Leader (1998, 2001 & 2002)
  • 3-time NL Total Bases Leader (1998, 1999 & 2001)
  • 2-time NL Home Runs Leader (2000 & 2002)
  • 2-time NL RBI Leader (1998 & 2001)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 13 (1993-2004 & 2007)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 11 (1993 & 1995-2004)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 7 (1996, 1998-2003)
  • 50-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1998-2001)
  • 60-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1998, 1999 & 2001)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 9 (1995-2003)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 5 (1998-2002)

Records Held

  • Home runs, right fielder, career, 538
  • Home runs, right fielder, season, 65, 1998
  • Home runs, one month, 20, June 1998
  • Extra base hits, right handed batter, season, 103, 2001 (tied)
  • Strikeouts, right handed batter, career, 2194


Sources vary, but include an article written by: T.R. Sullivan, on

  1. AP (June 4, 2003). "Unsplendid splinter". Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 24, 2006.
Sammy Sosa
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