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Photograph by Walter Iooss Jr.

"As is our custom late each fall, we at Sports Illustrated sat down to discuss nominations for the Sportsman of the ... No, we didn't discuss. We didn't even sit down. It was automatic. It was unanimous. It was the easiest selection in our history. It couldn't be one Sportsman of the Year. It had to be two. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. All in favor, say aye. All opposed, report back to your coma."

"McGwire and Sosa gave America a summer that won't be forgotten: a summer of stroke and counterstroke, of packed houses and curtain calls, of rivals embracing and gloves in the bleachers and adults turned into kids -- the Summer of Long Balls and Love. It wasn't just the lengths they went to with bats in their hands. It was also that they went to such lengths to conduct the great home run race with dignity and sportsmanship, with a sense of joy and openness. Never have two men chased legends and each other that hard and that long or invited so much of America onto their backs for the ride."

Text by Gary Smith
Issue Date: December 21, 1998

Your Turn: We asked for your choices for 1998 Sportsman of the Year, if Mac and Sammy weren't available on the Ballot. Check out a selection of CNNSI.com user responses

For exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the 1998 Sportsman of the Year cover photo shoot, click on the links below. And use the table of contents at left to browse additional Sportsman of the Year and CNN/SI features, including a complete archive of every winner.
Celebrating like Greek gods. Adjusting their togas.

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