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One of the most prolific home run streaks in history propelled Sammy Sosa into the race for the record. But who is Sammy Sosa? CNN/SI takes you down the path from his quiet start to his loudest season ever:
November 12,
Samuel Sosa is born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. One of five brothers and two sisters, he works in the streets of San Pedro as a child, selling oranges for the equivalent of a dime and shining shoes for 25 cents.
Sosa plays organized baseball for the first time at age 14. Scouts came sniffing like bloodhounds on a hunt.
The Philadelphia Phillies sign the 15-year old outfielder, but the deal is nullified by baseball officials because he is under 16. "I did not care who I signed with," Sosa later said. "I only cared about signing and playing."
July 30,
Sosa has been working out at the Toronto Blue Jays' camp, but Texas Rangers scout Omar Minaya talks Sosa into signing with his club. "It's very aggressive down there," says Minaya, putting it mildly. Sosa receives a $3,500 signing bonus. He gives it all to his mother, Lucrecia, except for a small amount which he spends on his first bicycle.
Although his talent is raw, Sosa's path through the minor leagues is meteoric. Highlights include: 11 home runs and 22 steals at Class A Gastonia, N.C., in 1987, and 12 triples with 42 swipes at Class A Port Charlotte in 1988.
June 16,
With a .297 batting average, seven HRs, 31 RBI and 16 steals in 66 games at Double-A Tulsa, Sosa is promoted to the Rangers. At 20 years, seven months, Sosa becomes the youngest Dominican to suit up in the majors. He goes 2-for-4 with a double against the New York Yankees in his first game.
July 20,
Sosa hits .238 in 25 games with Texas and receives a return ticket to the minors. He homered off Roger Clemens and had four hits in one game, but also struck out 20 times and didn't draw a walk or steal a base in his brief stay. "It's something that happens in baseball," Sosa said of his first demotion. "[But] I was ready. I've been ready all my life."
Sammy Sosa
July 29, 1989
Sosa begins to rack up the frequent-flyer miles. He has barely unpacked his bags at Triple-A Oklahoma City when Texas ships him, along with pitcher Wilson Alvarez and second baseman Scott Fletcher, to the Chicago White Sox for slugger Harold Baines and infielder Fred Manrique. On Aug. 22, after three more weeks in the minors, Sosa makes an auspicious Chicago debut. He goes 3-for-3 with a two-run homer in his first game in right field for the White Sox.
Sosa grew up in what could loosely be termed a house—it was actually a small section of an abandoned hospital. Thanks to his major league salary, Sammy's family moves into a real house in San Pedro de Macoris. It boasts a small television and, for the first time, the family purchases a telephone.
Sammy Sosa
July 19,
After two homers and five RBIs against Baltimore on Opening Day, Sosa went into a colossal slump. On this date, with his average hovering at the Mendoza line (.200), Sosa is banished to Triple-A Vancouver. He will be recalled Aug. 27 to finish the season with a .203 average, 10 HRs and 33 RBI—along with 98 Ks in 116 games.


Text by Brian Hamilton
Photos by (top to bottom) Courtesy Texas Rangers, Ronald C. Modra


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