Thursday, August 16, 2007
Samuel "Sammy" Peralta Sosa (born November 12, 1968 in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic) is a designated hitter for the Texas Rangers of the American League. His broke in with the Texas Rangers in 1989 and, since then, has played for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago, Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. Sosa ended the 2005 season with 588 career home runs, placing him fifth on the all-time home run list. He sat out the 2006 season but, in 2007, he made a comeback attempt with the Rangers, his original big league team.
Sosa had a hard childhood, with his father passing away when he was just seven. His family lived in an abandoned hospital while Sammy sold oranges on the street and shined shoes to make ends meet for his mother and six siblings. He started playing baseball at fourteen, but had to use a branch instead of a bat, an old milk carton for a baseball glove and a sock rolled up as a ball.
On June 20, 2007 against his old team, the Chicago Cubs, Sosa hit his 600th home run, becoming the 5th player in professional baseball to achieve that mark. He is also the all-time home run leader among non-American Major League Baseball players.
Sosa made his major league debut on June 21, 1989 with the Texas Rangers, and he hit his first home run off of Roger Clemens. The Rangers traded Sammy to the Chicago White Sox. He played two seasons for the White Sox and then was traded to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder George Bell before the 1992 season.
After years as a respected power hitter, Sosa emerged during the 1998 season as one of baseball's greatest. It was in this season that both Sosa and Mark McGwire passed Roger Maris's single season home run mark of 61 home runs that had stood since 1961. Sosa ended the season with 66, behind McGwire's 70. His 416 total bases were the most in a single season since Stan Musial's 429 in 1948.
Sosa won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and led the Cubs into the playoffs in 1998. He and McGwire shared Sports Illustrated magazine's much-coveted 1998 "Sportsman of the Year" award. Sosa was honored with a ticker-tape parade in his honor in New York City, and he was invited to be a guest at President Bill Clinton's 1999 State of the Union Address. The following season Sosa hit 63 home runs, again trailing Mark McGwire who hit 65.
Sosa, already a home run legend, finally led the league by hitting 50 home runs in the 2000 season.
Known as a free-swinger in his early years, and as an easy strikeout candidate, Sosa became an effective hitter for average. He owns numerous team records for the Cubs, and holds the major-league record for the most home runs hit in a month (20, in June 1998).
Sosa has run into some controversy, with a suspension for use of a corked bat (which he said was a simple mistake) and allegations of steroid use.