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The 20 greatest home runs in Cubs history, No. 15: Sammy Sosa, September 13, 1998

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The ‘98 home-run chase provided some memorable moments.

Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images

This article is a bit of a cheat, because it’s not about a single home run, it’s about two of them hit in a single game. (There will be two more articles in this series about a game with multiple “greatest” home runs. Feel free to guess, but I won’t reveal which games now.)

You could choose either one of these to be “15th greatest,” so I’ll present both of them and you can decide.

The 1998 home-run chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire is widely credited for bringing fans back to baseball after the 1994-95 strike had cancelled a World Series and decreased interest for three seasons. We now know that, most likely, the home runs hit by both those men were aided in some way by performance-enhancing drugs. Does that eliminate the excitement we all felt, the cheers, the race, the playoff race that accompanied it?

The answer is “No, but...” The “but” is because the PEDs tainted what should have been incredible joy over what we were seeing. 22 years later, I still don’t have a definitive answer to how that all makes me feel. More years will be required to sort this all out.

In the meantime, here are Sammy’s 61st and 62nd home runs of the 1998 season, both hit against the Brewers on Sunday, September 13, 1998 at Wrigley Field. They were both important home runs in a very important game, adding to their meaning.

The Cubs led this game 6-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Sammy came up with Mark Grace on first base. Sosa sent No. 61 to Waveland [VIDEO].

Brewers left fielder Geoff Jenkins doesn’t even move. Dozens if not a hundred or more people run down Kenmore Avenue looking for the ball. I was in the ballpark that day. Yes, I can still remember how I felt. It was a great day to be a baseball fan.

Sammy wasn’t done, though. And it was a good thing, too, because the Cubs bullpen was awful that day. The Brewers scored seven (!) unanswered runs between the sixth and ninth innings and took a 10-8 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Remember, the Cubs were in a tight wild-card race with the Mets and Giants and every win was critical.

Sosa came to bat with the bases empty and one out [VIDEO].

McGwire had hit his 62nd home run five days earlier off the Cubs’ Steve Trachsel in St. Louis, breaking the MLB record held by Roger Maris. But he had been held homerless since, and so Sosa tied him and the record with that blast. Say what you want about Chip Caray and his time as a Cubs announcer, “Move over Big Mac, you’ve got company” is a terrific call of that home run. Again, the crowds on Waveland raced after the baseball, there was later a lawsuit filed over its possession.

More importantly, it made the score 10-9 and the Cubs tied the game two batters later on an RBI single by Gary Gaetti, and it is not an exaggeration to say the Cubs probably don’t make the postseason in 1998 if not for the key late-season acquisition of Gaetti.

So take your pick — two big home runs by Sosa on this day. Which is the better one?

And the kicker to this story of two memorable homers is that neither of them was the most important home run hit in that game. This one was [VIDEO].

BCB’s Tim Huwe will have more thoughts about Sammy Sosa and the Cubs coming up at 1 p.m. CT today.

Poll

Which was the greater of Sammy Sosa’ homers on September 13, 1998?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    No. 61
    (43 votes)
  • 61%
    No. 62
    (68 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now