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Put the ball in the Hall
Sosa: Hall of Fame should have home run ball No. 62
Posted: Tuesday September 15, 1998 09:31 AM
Not for him to keep, though.
"If he comes and gives it to me, that ball's not going to go to my house," Sosa said before the Cubs played the San Diego Padres. "That ball's going to the American people and the Hall of Fame."
Getting it back could be a whole other matter, though.
Sosa tied McGwire in stunning fashion on Sunday, hitting Nos. 61 and 62 out of Wrigley Field onto Waveland Avenue.
Three people claim to be the rightful owner of historic ball No. 62, Chicago police said, and there may be no real way to prove who has it. After McGwire broke the record last week in St. Louis, major league baseball stopped putting a secret mark on balls pitched to him and Sosa.
Both homers set off wild scrambles, and Sosa was asked what he thought about fans practically beating each other up to get to the ball.
"If that were the situation and I weren't a ballplayer, I'd probably be doing (it) the same way," he told about 100 reporters and cameramen crammed into the San Diego Chargers' locker room at Qualcomm Stadium.
Sosa kept the crowd waiting for about 10 minutes, then apologized.
"Sorry to make you wait," he said. "I had to go to work first."
Sosa was relaxed, and spoke about how he's driven more by the Cubs' wild-card chase than the race for one of the most glamorous and prestigious records in all of sports.
Sosa, from the Dominican Republic, was asked several questions in Spanish. When Padres spokesman Glenn Geffner translated one question into English, Sosa looked surprised and then said with a big smile: "You speak Spanish, too?"
Sosa said he received two special phone calls Monday.
"I had a beautiful phone call from President Bill Clinton. It's something that made me real proud of myself."
And, he added: "I already talked to Mark McGwire today. He called me and congratulated me, told me to just keep on going on."
Sosa was asked about criticism that major league baseball didn't have anywhere near the celebration for him that McGwire had when he broke Roger Maris' old record of 61 last Tuesday.
"The attention that I've been having all year long has been enough for me," Sosa said. "Mark, he did it first, he is the man. For me, I'm so happy to be playing in the United States."
Perhaps responding to the criticism, commissioner Bud Selig and NL president Leonard Coleman plan to attend Sammy Sosa Day on Sunday at Wrigley Field, the Cubs' last home regular-season game.
Sosa has said all along that he wanted to see McGwire break Maris' single-season record of 61. That done, Sosa was asked if he'd like to end up with the record.
"This is two people who have been working hard," Sosa said. "We are not enemies. We have a good relationship. I think that Mark McGwire is one of the good friends I have."
During this four-game series, Sosa will be reminded of McGwire by the white seat with the red "M" in the second deck of Qualcomm Stadium, where the St. Louis slugger hit a ball in his last visit to San Diego.
With no landmarks like Waveland Avenue or the Green Monster beckoning, the second deck in left is the benchmark for awe-inspiring homers at the stadium formerly known as Jack Murphy, where they've been playing baseball for 30 years.
McGwire hit probably the most impressive homer ever at this stadium when he lined a ball an estimated 458 feet to left-center on July 20. Only 21 balls have reached the second deck. Among the players hitting them there were Dick Allen, Dave Kingman, Kevin Mitchell, Mike Piazza.
If Sosa can outdo McGwire, he'd get a chair painted in his honor, stadium general manager Bill Wilson said.
"A visitor has to be the longest" to get the honor, Wilson said.
Also, the March on Maris exhibition at the Hall of Fame now includes the bat, ball and uniform from Roger Maris' 61st homer; the bat, ball and uniform from McGwire's 62nd; the jersey from McGwire's batboy son, Matthew; the bat from Sosa's 57th homer; the bat from Sosa's 58th through 62nd homers; the jersey from Sosa's 62nd homer; and a bat from June when Sosa hit 20 homers to set the record for most in a month.
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