Sammy Sosas career: A complicated case against Cooperstown

Sammy Sosas career: A complicated case against Cooperstown
January 8, 2013, 8:01 am
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Only seven men have hit more than the 609 home runs Sammy Sosa slammed during his big-league career. He did it with a flair for the dramatic, inside one of baseballs cathedrals, while playing for a marquee franchise.

Yet as a Hall of Fame candidate, Sosa has generated almost zero momentum. The Cubs dont keep him around as a member of their family and hes gone off the grid, maintaining a cone of silence.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have become lightning rods on talk shows and Twitter. This time Sosa is barely part of the conversation. Baseball Think Factorys online exit polling from the Baseball Writers Association of America has him hovering around 15 percent.

Its almost impossible to see Sosa getting voted into Cooperstown now. How did it get to this point? With the results to be revealed on Wednesday (1 p.m., MLB Network), heres a look back on his controversial career:

July 30, 1985: Signed with the Rangers as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic.

June 16, 1989: Made his big-league debut at Yankee Stadium, hitting leadoff and going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored for a Texas lineup built around Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra and Julio Franco.

June 21, 1989: Hit his first home run in the majors -- off Clemens at Fenway Park.

July 29, 1989: Traded to the White Sox along with pitcher Wilson Alvarez and infielder Scott Fletcher for Harold Baines and infielder Fred Manrique.

1990 and 1991: Hit 25 homers combined in two full seasons on the South Side.

March 30, 1992: Traded along with pitcher Ken Patterson to the Cubs for outfielder George Bell.

1993: Became the Cubs' first member of the 30-30 club, slugging 33 homers and stealing 36 bases.

July 11, 1995: Returned to Texas to play in his first All-Star Game at The Ballpark in Arlington.

1995: Earned his first Silver Slugger Award and finished eighth in the MVP voting after generating 36 homers, 119 RBIs, 34 steals and 89 runs.

Sammy Sosa: By the NumbersAs the clock counts down to the reveal of the Hall of Fame voting on Wednesday afternoon, Sammy Sosa's name has been curiously out of the discussion - for good or bad. Here's a look at some of "Slammin' Sammy's" career statistics.YEARTEAMABRHHRRBISOAVGOBPSLGOPS1989TEX848201320.238.238.310.5481989CWS99192731027.273.351.414.7651990CWS532721241570150.233.282.404.6871991CWS3163964103398.203.240.335.5761992CHC262416882563.260.317.393.7101993CHC598921563393135.261.309.485.7941994CHC42659128257092.300.339.545.8841995CHC5648915136119134.268.340.500.8401996CHC4988413640100134.273.323.564.8881997CHC6429016136119174.251.300.480.7791998CHC64313419866158171.308.377.6471.0241999CHC62511418063141171.288.367.6351.0022000CHC60410619350138168.320.406.6341.0402001CHC57714618964160153.328.437.7371.1742002CHC55612216049108144.288.399.594.9932003CHC5179914440103143.279.358.553.9112004CHC478691213580133.253.332.517.8492005BAL3803984144584.221.295.376.6712007TEX412531042192112.252.311.468.779Totals88131475240860916672306.273.344.534.878Source: MLB.com1997: Led the National League with 174 strikeouts while putting up 36 homers for a last-place, 94-loss Cubs team.

June 1998: Set a major-league record with 20 home runs in a calendar month.

September 1998: Joined Mark McGwire in an epic home-run chase. Gave Big Mac a bear hug on Sept. 8 after McGwire hit his record-setting 62nd home run off Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel in St. Louis. Less than a week later, Sosa responded with his 62nd homer at Wrigley Field. His video-game numbers -- 66 homers, 158 RBIs, 134 runs -- made him MVP.

Sept. 30, 1998: Made playoff debut and collected two hits in a 7-1 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. The Cubs got swept as Sosa didnt record another hit in the three-game series.

Dec. 21, 1998: Dressed in white togas, with wreaths around their heads, Sosa and McGwire appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the magazines Sportsmen of the Year.

1999: Put up 63 homers and 141 RBIs for a last-place, 95-loss team.

January 2000: Asked to name his biggest mistake as an adult during a Republican campaign debate in South Carolina, Texas governor George W. Bush, the former Rangers managing partner and future president, said: I signed off on that wonderful transaction: Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines.

July 11, 2000: Won the Home Run Derby in Atlanta, going deep 26 times before beating Ken Griffey Jr. in the finals, a sideshow to a season in which he would account for 50 homers and 138 RBIs.

May 16, 2001: Launched his 400th career homer at Wrigley Field against Astros right-hander Shane Reynolds.

2001: Became the first player in major-league history to put together a third season with 60-plus homers.

2002: Led the league with 49 homers and drove in 122 runs, making it five straight All-Star Games and Silver Sluggers.

April 4, 2003: Hit his 500th career home run off Reds pitcher Scott Sullivan at Great American Ball Park, becoming the 18th member of that exclusive club.

June 4, 2003: Busted for using a corked bat. Umpire Tim McClelland ejected Sosa after a broken-bat groundout against Tampa Bay at Wrigley Field. He claimed it was his batting practice bat, apologized to fans and received a seven-game suspension.

Sept. 30, 2003-Oct. 15, 2003: Reached the postseason for the second and final time in his career. Hit .188 as the Cubs eliminated the Braves. Posted a 1.031 OPS with two homers, six RBIs and seven runs during a heartbreaking NLCS loss to the Marlins.

April 18, 2004: Set a franchise record with his 513th home run in a Cubs uniform.

May 2004: Sneezed too hard, injured his back and wound up being sidelined for more than a month.

Oct. 3, 2004: Walked out on the season finale, which would result in a 87,400 fine -- or one days pay. Reports had him leaving Wrigley Field 15 minutes before first pitch, while rumors persisted about a teammate smashing his boombox.

Feb. 2, 2005: Traded with cash to the Orioles for pitcher Dave Crouthers, infielder Mike Fontenot and utility guy Jerry Hairston Jr.

March 17, 2005: Testified at a Congressional hearing: To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

February 2006: Turned down a non-guaranteed offer from the Nationals, prompting agent Adam Katz to tell ESPN.com: We're not going to put him on the retirement list. ... But I can say, with reasonable certainty, that weve seen Sammy in a baseball uniform for the last time.

February 2007: Signed with the Rangers. He hit .252 with 21 homers and 92 RBIs in 114 games that season, including No. 600 against Jason Marquis and the Cubs, joining Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays at that elite level.

Dec. 13, 2007: Escaped the Mitchell Report. George Mitchell, the former Democratic senator from Maine, wrote that he sent letters with specific questions to lawyers for Sosa, Bonds, Palmeiro, and Gary Sheffield, none of whom provided answers to my questions. That was the only time Sosas name was mentioned in the entire document.

June 4, 2009: Told ESPN Deportes he would soon announce his retirement, almost two years after his final game, and calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

June 16, 2009: The New York Times reported that hes among the group of players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, citing anonymous lawyers familiar with the results from that year.

Jan. 9, 2013: That explosive story shattered the image, which wont be repaired by Wednesdays announcement. Was it worth it? According to the salary database at Baseball-Reference.com, Sosa made 124 million in his career.

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