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Wrigley Field historical sleuthing: Sammy Sosa edition

Remember when the board kept track of Sammy’s homers?

When Sammy Sosa was in a countdown to 500 career homers, the folks who run the Wrigley Field scoreboard put that count on the board, on the bottom of what usually would be the right field side.

Here, you see Sammy has 493 home runs and the Cubs are hosting the Diamondbacks.

This one’s easy. Sammy was in this countdown in 2002. The Cubs didn’t have a very good year in 2002, losing 95 games, while the D-Backs won the NL West with a 98-64 record.

Sammy hit his 493rd home run August 17, 2002 in a 6-2 loss to Arizona.

As you can see, that clip is from Fox’s Saturday broadcast; I’m not sure who the announcers are.

And so, we can absolutely precisely date this photo: It was taken the next day, just before the final game of that three-game series between the Cubs and D-Backs, at 11:40 a.m. Sunday, August 18, 2002.

The Cubs won that game 3-2 on a walkoff single by Joe Girardi in the bottom of the ninth:

Sosa, meanwhile, hit his 498th home run against the Pirates in the season’s 154th game. Thus he had eight games to hit two homers to get to 500 in 2002, but hit just one more the rest of the year, off Josh Fogg at Wrigley in the second-to-last game of the season.

His 500th would have to wait until 2003, and it was hit off Scott Sullivan of the Reds in the season’s fifth game, April 4, 2003:

The Cubs wound up losing that game, though, 10-9.