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Another blast for Sammy!
Sosa wins National League MVP over McGwire
Posted: Wednesday December 02, 1998 03:39 PM
After losing to McGwire in the race for the home run record, Sosa overwhelmed his friendly rival Thursday, getting 30 of 32 first-place votes and 438 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
McGwire, who hit 70 homers to Sosa's 66, got the other two first-place votes and 272 points. Two sports writers for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch voted for McGwire and had Sosa second.
"I would have voted for Mark," Sosa said in Chicago. "In my heart, Mark McGwire is still the man."
McGwire, on vacation in Australia, praised his rival but didn't say how he would have voted.
"To put it in his words, today Sammy is the man," McGwire said in a statement issued by the Cardinals. "He did a great job carrying the Cubbies back to the playoffs."
As they approached Roger Maris' old home run record of 61, Sosa and McGwire became friends. Sosa repeatedly predicted McGwire would get to the record first and often said it was McGwire's year.
"It's hard to hit 70 home runs and not win MVP," Sosa said. "I was never so sure to myself that I had it until today."
But the baseball writers put a premium on playing for a winning team, and Sosa led the Chicago Cubs into the playoffs for the first time since 1989. The Cardinals stumbled to a third-place finish in the NL Central, 19 games behind Houston and seven behind the wild-card Cubs.
Sosa hit .308 and led the majors with 158 RBIs, 132 runs and 414 total bases.
McGwire finished with 147 RBIs and a .299 average, leading the majors in walks (162), slugging percentage (.752) and on-base percentage (.470).
Sosa's win made the MVP awards a sweep for Latin American players. Texas' Juan Gonzalez -- a former teammate of Sosa's in the Rangers' minor-league system and a native of Puerto Rico -- won the AL MVP on Wednesday.
Everyone back in Sosa's homeland in the Dominican Republic expected him to win. He joined George Bell (1987) as the only Dominican MVP winners.
"Sosa, This is Your Day," blared the lead sports page of the newspaper Listin Diario, printed before the vote totals were announced.
Sosa will go to the Dominican Republic early Friday morning and meet with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, said his agent, Tom Reich. Sosa, who intends to spend about 10 days on the island, has been heavily involved in helping the country recover from Hurricane Georges.
"My reputation outside the field, that counts a lot," Sosa said. "Maybe people took it from there."
Sosa, given a hero's welcome last month when he returned to San Pedro de Macoris, said his charitable foundation has been involved in distributing food.
While Sosa was first or second on every ballot, McGwire got 20 seconds, three thirds, one fourth, four fifths, one sixth and one seventh.
Even Cardinals manager Tony La Russa thought Sosa had the edge.
"I'm so biased it's ridiculous, but I think Sammy deserves it," La Russa said during the season's final week. "I don't think he's done more for his team than Mark has, but his team has done more than ours has, so his contribution counts for a little more in my book. Just barely, but that's who I would give it to."
Under their contracts, Sosa gets a $250,000 bonus for winning and Houston's Moises Alou gets a $10,000 bonus for finishing third with 215 points. Atlanta's Andres Galarraga gets a $100,000 bonus for finishing sixth.
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