A Day In Wrigley Field History: August 28, 1995

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It's the first appearance in this series of a player who would become very important in Cubs history.

I've already written up one of the wildest weeks in Wrigley history in last year's 1995 history post.

So what to do this year? 1995 was a pretty ordinary season, until that final week. The Cubs were in first place early, but then fell well behind the Astros and muddled around .500 most of the year. Many of the most interesting games of the year happened on the road, so they wouldn't qualify for this series.

Thus I've settled on a 7-5 win over the Braves on a random Monday in August. Why? Because Sammy Sosa hit two home runs that afternoon, including a two-run shot in the seventh inning that provided the eventual margin of victory. Bill Jauss summed it up in the Tribune:

Sosa enjoyed the 14th multihomer game of his career and the third this season. He reached a career-high 95 RBIs.

Sosa also may have silenced some of his critics who contend the bulk of his homers come in games when the Cubs are far ahead or far behind. No. 28 in the first inning, after Mark Grace's single, staked Navarro to a 2-0 lead. No. 29, after Todd Zeile walked in the seventh, provided the winning runs and made it 7-3.

"I've heard people say that I don't hit when it counts, and I don't believe it," said Sosa. "I try to do what I can. Homer, RBI, whatever. We got a chance. We're in the wild card." 

Despite being 56-57 after that win, the Cubs were indeed in the wild-card race, the first of its kind. The Braves, Reds and Dodgers were division leaders, and really the only teams with records worthy of postseason play. The Rockies -- who eventually won the wild card -- led the race at the time with a 59-55 record, so the Cubs were only 2½ games behind. Sosa wound up the month of August 1995 with 12 home runs, presaging his big years to come.

The Cubs went 17-14 the rest of the way, but it wasn't quite enough, as the Rockies went 18-12 to make the playoffs in only their third year of existence, under manager Don Baylor, who was being hailed as a managerial genius.

If only the Cubs would have known what was to happen later, when they hired Baylor.

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