On today in 1992, Sammy Sosa nonetheless had darkish pores and skin.
Whereas the previous slugger’s pores and skin pigmentation has taken a flip for the obscure, today in historical past hasn’t: as a result of it was the day Sosa and reliever Ken Patterson have been traded to the Cubs for George Bell.
Sosa was signed as a high-schooler out of the Dominican Republic, and made his debut at age 20 for the Rangers. He could be traded as soon as to the White Sox for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique, and after a couple of years of disappointment with Chicago — and the White Sox figuring out they have been a participant away from actually competing for a World Sequence — the South Facet and North Facet mixed for a commerce.
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Sosa went on to hit greater than 600 dwelling runs in his profession, whereas Bell, a longtime main league outfielder, would have two actually unhealthy seasons with the White Sox earlier than retiring. There’s actually not a lot of a debate as to who gained the commerce, even when it appeared like the appropriate deal on the time for the South Siders.
However greater than something, Sosa’s legacy is not — or should not — solely be outlined by his alleged steroid use. After all, Sosa was a part of the summer time that saved baseball in 1998, when his dwelling run chase with Mark McGwire resulted in followers coming again to the game to observe them chase Roger Maris’ dwelling run report. (Lest we neglect, Ken Griffey Jr. completed with 56 lengthy balls that season, too).
Whereas Sosa’s dominance was confined over a six-year stretch, you actually can not inform the historical past of baseball with out him, which is why his Corridor of Fame candidacy — or lack thereof — has been so complicated. For some purpose, the historical past of the summer time of ’98 tends to focus solely on McGwire. Whereas he ended the season with 70 huge flys, Sosa, too, broke the single-season dwelling run report that yr.
Positive, a few of that’s semantics, as a result of McGwire received there first, however Sosa nonetheless completed the season with 66 homers, which is, frankly, so much. And it was, in truth, a damaged report.
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Solely eight gamers in baseball historical past have extra profession dwelling runs than Slammin’ Sammy and, in hindsight, he is being unfairly punished for juicing when steroids are arguably what saved baseball within the ’90s. Folks are likely to deal with the unfavourable of Sosa’s profession (the congressional listening to, the Mitchell report) greater than what he did (introduced followers again).
Sosa received a small bump in voting share this previous cycle, climbing to 13.9 p.c — the very best his share has been. However he has two extra years on the poll and is roughly 60 share factors away from election, so he’ll doubtless face the identical destiny as McGwire and dwell out his eligibility on the poll earlier than falling off.
However Sosa, like McGwire earlier than him, deserves higher. And whereas his profession leaves behind one thing of an enigmatic legacy, there is not any denying that that legacy began on today 28 years in the past.