Sunday, September 19, 1999

Cubs' Sosa first to hit 60 HRs twice in a career

Milestone comes off Brewers' Bere at Wrigley

The Associated Press

        CHICAGO — Sammy Sosa is in a swinger's club all by himself. It's called the 60-60.

        Sosa hit his 60th homer Saturday to become the first player in major league history to reach the mark twice. He's done it in back-to-back seasons.

        After hitting 66 last season for the Chicago Cubs and losing an epic home run contest with Mark McGwire by four, Sosa connected for No.60 Saturday against Jason Bere of the Milwaukee Brewers, a team he has picked on for 17 homers the last two years.

        Sosa drove a 2-2 pitch just over the wall in center field in the sixth inning, producing an ovation of several minutes. Sosa crossed the plate and pointed to the sky and then went to the dugout and was hugged by teammate Glenallen Hill.

        Moments later, he emerged from the dugout for a curtain call and blew his trademark kisses to the crowd that had come to see one thing — Sosa end a home drought and make the history books.

        Sosa has gone seven games and 33 at-bats without a homer since hitting No.59 on Sept. 9.

        “My first year, 1990, I hit 15 home runs with the White Sox and I thought I was Babe Ruth,” Sosa said earlier this season.

        Now Sosa, who as a boy sold oranges and shined shoes on the streets of the Dominican Republic, has done something even the great Ruth couldn't.

        As he walked to the end of the dugout after his historic blast, Sosa held up a sign to the TV camera: “I Love You Dominican Republic.”

        Until Sosa came along, Ruth had come the closest to two 60-homer seasons. He hit 59 in 1921 and became the first to reach the mark in 1927, when he finished with 60 in a 154-game season.

        Roger Maris hit 61 homers in a 162-game season in 1961. No one else reached 60 until last year, when McGwire and then Sosa staged their friendly but spirited competition with McGwire pulling away on the final weekend of last season.

        This season, Sosa leads McGwire by four and they'll go head-to-head six times in the final two weeks, beginning Monday when the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals open a three-game series at Wrigley Field.

        Sosa was in a 6-for-33 tail spin when he homered off Bere. The relief was visible on Sosa's face.

        “I remember at the beginning of the year a lot of people were saying it was impossible to happen two years in a row,” Sosa said last week. “And here I am.”

        Sosa hit No.60 in his 148th game this season. Last year he connected for his 60th in the 149th game. That also came off a Milwaukee pitcher, Valerio De Los Santos.

        Sosa got another standing ovation when he went to right field for the top of the seventh and stopped in shallow right field and doffed his cap and waved to the fans.

        “SAM-MY! SAM-MY!” they chanted and Sosa, who salutes the fans when he takes his position before every home game, again took his cap and recognized the ovation.

        No one caught the ball, which landed just short of the juniper bushes in dead center field. A Cubs employee retrieved the ball for Sosa.

        Sosa could become the first player to have more home runs than his team has victories. The Cubs, who lost 7-4 in 14 innings to the Brewers Saturday, have won 59 games.

        Mark McGwire played six innings and was 1-for-3 with an RBI double for the Cardinals, remaining at 56 home runs.


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