The Home Run Race of 1998
Wow. What a season it was. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hitting home run after home run, in the hopes of breaking Roger Maris’s single season home run record of 61. I never thought I’d see the day that Maris’s record was broken, but then again I never thought I’d see Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs broken, either. McGwire and Sosa, two big men with compact and powerful swings, were able to put baseball back on the map. This home run race was more than just chasing history; it was a public revival of the game of baseball.
Baseball had begun to lose its popularity in the public eye, falling behind the NBA and NFL. McGwire and Sosa came along at exactly the right time. This home run race gave citizens a reason to watch baseball again: the pursuit of a record. Everyone wants to witness history, and when they watched baseball in 1998, they were watching history in the making. On September 8, 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Chicago Cubs in a division rivalry. Funny thing is, the two men involved in the home run race both were in the game; McGwire for the Cardinals and Sosa for the Cubs. McGwire had already hit homerun number 61, tying Maris’s 37 year old record, and now had his sights set on breaking it. He was successful.
In the 4th inning of this game, McGwire hit homerun number 62 of the season, passing Maris’s single season record. As he ran around the bases, he was congratulated by every coach and player he met along the way, including the opposing team. As he reached home plate, he was met by his teammates and his son, Matthew. Perhaps what was most beneficial to the game of baseball, though, was that his friend, and foe, Sammy Sosa, met him and congratulated him. McGwire finished the season with 70 homeruns, and Sosa with 66. Both of these men broke the previous record, But McGwire stood alone at the top. It wasn’t only personal glory, though. These two men helped to put baseball back in the public eye, and helped to revive the game that I have loved my entire life. I wish I could have been there to shake his hand and simply say, “Thank you.”