Sammy Sosa

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Sammy Sosa

Sammy Sosa

Position Right Field
Team Baltimore Orioles
Years of Experience 16 years
Age 36
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight 230 lb (104 kg)
Bats Right
Throws Right
College N/A
2005 Salary $17,875,000
Place of Birth San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
Selection Amateur Free Agent, 1985
Drafted by Texas Rangers
Major League Debut June 16, 1989

Samuel ("Sammy") Sosa Peralta (born November 12, 1968 in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic), is a professional Major League baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles. He formerly has played for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and Chicago Cubs. He ended the 2005 season with 588 career home runs, placing him fifth on the major leagues' all-time home run list.

Early life

Sosa's family was very poor and he grew up in an abandoned hospital. As a child, he shined shoes to help support his mother and six siblings. He started playing baseball at 14, a fairly old age for baseball, after he decided to quit boxing at his mother's behest. Sosa sometimes used a folded milk carton as a glove, since he could not afford a real one. The Philadelphia Phillies attempted to sign him at age 15, but this deal was not allowed by Major League Baseball because of a rule making the minimum age for contracts between major league teams and players 16. After turning 16, he signed with the Texas Rangers in 1985.

Early career

He made his major league debut on June 16, 1989 with the Rangers, who traded him to the Chicago White Sox along with Wilson Alvarez in exchange for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique later that same season (a move that U.S. President George W. Bush, then the Rangers' managing general partner, later joked was the biggest mistake he ever made). After a promising 1990 season in which he hit 15 home runs and collected 70 RBI as a full-time player, in 1991 his production fell and Sosa was relegated to the minor leagues for a time.

Prior to the start of the 1992 season, Sosa was again traded. This time he was sent packing across town to the Cubs along with reliever Ken Patterson in exchange for slugger George Bell. Many at the time thought the Cubs had been swindled by the White Sox in the trade, including a vocal George Bell, who said he was insulted at being traded for a player as unproven as Sosa. Larry Himes, who had been the general manager of the White Sox when they acquired Sosa, was now the general manager of the Cubs, and having traded for him a second time, defended his view that Sosa would turn out to be an outstanding player.

Sosa spent the 1992 season in centerfield for the Cubs, but spent more than half the season on the disabled list with a broken wrist from being hit by a pitch and a sore shoulder. In 1993 Sosa finally started to show the talent that scouts and fans alike had seen glimpses of for years. Sosa finished with 33 home runs and 36 stolen bases, the first Cub to join the exclusive 30-30 club. Sosa followed with another solid campaign in the strike-shortened season of 1994.

During the strike, Sosa supposedly agreed to a free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox, but Major League Baseball decided not to allow any contract negotiations between players and teams during the strike. By the time the strike had been settled, Sosa had a change of heart and decided to stay with the Cubs.

Sosa once again reached the 30-30 plateau in 1995, and made his first All-Star team. In 1996, Sosa was leading the National League in home runs with 40 when he was hit by a pitch, breaking his wrist and effectively ending his season. Sosa had trouble rebounding from his broken wrist during the 1997 season. A late season surge rose his batting average to a mildly disappointing .251, but the Cubs were well on their way to a last place finish by then.

During his subpar 1997 season, Sosa agreed to a contract extension with the Cubs that made him one of baseball's highest-paid players. Many experts felt that this was a mistake, since Sosa in their views did not possess the talent to merit such a contract. He wasted little time proving them wrong.

Best years

After years as a respected power hitter, Sammy Sosa emerged during the 1998 season as one of baseball's greats. It was in this season that both Sosa and Mark McGwire broke Roger Maris's long-standing single season home run record of 61. Sosa ended the season with 66, behind McGwire's 70. His 416 total bases were the most in a single season in 50 years, since Stan Musial's 429 in 1948. Sosa found some consolation in winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award for leading the Cubs into the playoffs in 1998, earning every first-place vote except for the two cast by St. Louis writers, who voted for McGwire. He and McGwire shared Sports Illustrated magazine's 1998 "Sportsmen of the Year" award. Sosa's accomplishments were celebrated with a ticker-tape parade in his honor in New York City, and he was asked to be a guest at US 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 claimed his first home run championship by hitting 50 in the 2000 season.

In 2001, he hit 64 home runs, becoming the first (and, thus far, only) player ever with three 60 home run seasons (though, oddly, he did not lead the league in any of those three seasons; in 2001, he finished behind Barry Bonds). In the same season he set personal records in runs scored (146), RBIs (160), walks (116), on base percentage (.437), slugging percentage (.737), and batting average (.328). He led the Majors in runs and RBIs, was 2nd in home runs, 2nd in slugging percentage, 3rd in walks, 4th in on base percentage, 12th in batting average, and 15th in hits. He also surpassed his 1998 numbers in total bases, compiling 425. Sosa once again led the league in home runs with 49 in 2002. 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).

Corked bat incident and thereafter

While Sosa's accomplishments during his career with the Cubs had been vast, as a team they saw little success, only once making the playoffs during Sosa's tenure-a wildcard playoff berth in 1998. That would change in 2003, when the Cubs and new manager Dusty Baker won the National League Central Division title. The year was not all good news for Sosa, however. In May, he spent his first time on the disabled list since 1996 after having a toenail removed. On June 3, 2003, Sosa was ejected from a Chicago Cubs-Tampa Bay Devil Rays game in the first inning when umpires discovered he had been using a corked bat. [1]

Major League Baseball confiscated and tested 76 of Sosa's other bats after his ejection; all were found to be clean, with no cork. [2] Sosa stated that he had accidentally used the corked bat, which he claimed was his batting-practice bat. On June 6, 2003, Sosa was suspended for eight games on account of the corked bat. [3] However, the suspension was reduced to seven games after appeal on June 11, 2003. [4]

After the suspension, Sosa returned to form and hit 40 home runs in his shortened season, including titanic blasts in games 1 and 2 of the NLCS against the Florida Marlins. The Cubs were just five outs away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945, before a Game 6 collapse left them on the verge of elimination. Their subsequent 9-6 loss in Game 7 ensured another season of unfulfilled promise.

In May of 2004, Sosa suffered a strange injury. While sitting next to his locker chatting with reporters before a game in San Diego's PETCO Park, he sneezed violently, causing severe back pain. He was diagnosed with back spasms and placed on the disabled list. Later, he fell into one of the worst slumps of his career, only snapping out of it in the last week of the season. He finished with 35 homers, far below his numbers of his best years.

Sosa's actions in the last game of the 2004 season raised many eyebrows, and eventually led to his departure from Chicago. Going into the last game, the Cubs had lost seven of eight games to fall out of contention for a playoff berth. Sosa had already been told that he would not be in the starting lineup for that game, and arrived at Wrigley Field only an hour before game time; this was a violation of team rules. He then left Wrigley without permission during the game, claiming to reporters afterwards that he left in the seventh inning. However, a surveillance video proved that Sosa had left the stadium 15 minutes after the game started. Several days later, the Cubs fined him one game's pay (approximately $87,000).

After his teammates learned of the departure that day, one of them (who has not been identified) destroyed Sosa's trademark boombox that he kept in his locker (unconfirmed but reliable sources had later attributed the boombox breaking incident to catcher Michael Barrett). That action was viewed as symbolic of the end of Sosa's era with the Cubs. Sosa was notorious for monopolizing the music in the locker room, playing either salsa music or music such as that by singer Whitney Houston. It's normally the custom in the majors for the team's starting pitcher that day to select the music that is played in the locker room.

By then, most observers considered Sosa to be declining as a player, as he was the only player in Major League Baseball whose batting average, home runs, and RBI all declined in each year since 2001 (which some point out, were the same years the MLB starting cracking down on substance abuse).[5][6] Given this fact and his late-2004 actions, the Cubs were generally regarded as eager to trade him; however, the structure of his then-current contract made this difficult. Sosa had one year left on his contract with a team option for a second year; his salary would be $17 million in 2005, and was to rise to $18 million in 2006. However, the contract also stipulated that if Sosa was traded during the duration of the deal, the team option would be waived, making his 2006 salary guaranteed.

The Baltimore Orioles Year

On January 28, 2005 it was announced that the Cubs had reached an agreement to trade Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. and two minor league prospects. In order to facilitate the deal, Sosa and his agent agreed to waive the clause that guaranteed his 2006 salary, and the players' union indicated it would not object to that agreement. Under the deal, Sosa earned $17,875,000.00 for the 2005 season, with the Cubs paying $7 million of his salary. By playing for the 2005 Orioles, with 500 home run hitter Rafael Palmeiro, Sosa and Palmeiro became the first 500 home run club members in history to play together on the same team after reaching their 500 home run marks.

After a great deal of preseason hype from Sosa and Orioles management, Sosa had a modest start to the season, which was followed by terrible slumps during mid-season. The slumps caused then Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli to drop Sosa as low as the 7th spot in the lineup. When Sosa's slump continued, Mazzilli resorted to benching Sosa. Sosa eventually returned to the lineup and while the slumps did subside somewhat, he still had problems producing as a hitter. Towards the end of the 2005 season, Sosa had another mysterious injury and spent a great deal of time away from the team. Sosa finished the season batting .221 with 14 home runs, his worst performance since 1992, and continuing his post-2001 trend of declines in batting average, homers, and RBI. He is not expected to be re-signed by the Orioles.

See also

External links

es:Sammy Sosa ja:サミー・ソーサ