Definitions

free-swinger

Sammy Sosa

[soh-suh]

Samuel Peralta Sosa (born November 12, 1968 in San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic) is a right fielder who is currently a free agent in Major League Baseball.

Sosa's Major League career began when he broke in with the Texas Rangers in . In the intervening years, he has played for the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. He ended the season with 588 career home runs, placing him fifth on the all-time home run list. After sitting out the season, Sosa signed with the Rangers in a comeback attempt in early , and he made the team as a designated hitter. While playing for the Rangers on June 20, 2007, against the Cubs, his former team, 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 foreign-born Major League Baseball players.

Sosa's alleged involvement in the era of Major League Baseball's steroid scandal has harmed his reputation. The 2007 Mitchell Report did not name Sosa in its list of players identified in the course of the investigation, although Sosa was mentioned in a related affidavit by Federal Agent Jeff Novitzky dealing with the use of amphetamines.

Sosa is known to family and friends as "Mikey". His maternal grandmother, who had suggested his birth name of Samuel, also came up with his nickname: "[She] heard the name on a soap opera she liked and decided from that moment on I would be Mikey.

Although his officially registered birthplace is San Pedro de Macorís, Sosa was actually born in Consuelo. San Pedro de Macorís was "the largest town nearby." Both Consuelo and San Pedro de Macorís are in San Pedro de Macorís Province.

Major League career

Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox (1989-1991)

Sosa made his major league debut on June 16, 1989, with the Texas Rangers, and he hit first career home run off Roger Clemens. Later in the season, the Rangers traded Sammy to the Chicago White Sox. He played two full seasons for the White Sox and was traded, along with pitcher Ken Patterson, to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder George Bell before the season.

Chicago Cubs (1992-2004)

After years as a respected power/speed threat with a rocket arm in right field, he emerged during the 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 . Sosa ended the season with 66, behind McGwire's 70. However, Sammy had become the first Major League batter ever to hit 65 homers in a season. Then, McGwire passed him late in the season to become the first ever to hit 70.

Also in 1998, Sosa's 416 total bases were the most in a single season since Stan Musial's 429 in . Sosa's performance in the month of June, during which Sosa belted 20 home runs, knocked in 47 runs, and posted an .842 slugging percentage, was one of the greatest offensive outbursts in major league history. Sosa won 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 "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 US President Bill Clinton's 1999 State of the Union Address. 1998 was also the first time the Cubs made the post-season since 1989. The Cubs qualified as the NL Wild Card team, but were swept by the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.

In the season, Sosa hit 63 home runs, again trailing Mark McGwire who hit 65. In the season, Sammy finally led the league by hitting 50 home runs.

In , he hit 64 home runs, becoming the first player to hit 60 home runs in three seasons in his career. However, he did not lead the league in any of those seasons; in 2001, he finished behind Barry Bonds, who hit 73 homers, breaking the single-season home run record set by McGwire in 1998 (70). In the same season he set personal records in runs scored (146), RBI (160), walks (116), on base percentage (.437), slugging percentage (.737), and batting average (.328). He led the majors in runs and RBI, was 2nd in home runs, 2nd in slugging percentage, 1st in total bases, 3rd in walks, 4th in on base percentage, 12th in batting average, and 15th in hits. He also surpassed his 1998 number in total bases, racking up 425. Sosa once again led the league in home runs with 49 in . Known as a free-swinger in his early years, and as a good strikeout candidate, Sammy became an effective hitter for average. He owns numerous team records for the Cubs, and he holds the major-league record for the most home runs hit in a month (20, in June 1998). In recognition of his accomplishments as a hitter, Sosa won the Silver Slugger award (an award for offensive output, voted on by managers and coaches) in and in 1998 through 2002.

In , the Cubs won the National League Central Division title. The year was not all good news for Sosa, however. In May, he spent his first period on the disabled list since after having an injured 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. Major League Baseball confiscated and tested 76 of Sosa's other bats after his ejection; all were found to be clean, with no cork. Five bats he had sent to the Hall of Fame in past years were also tested, and were all clean as well. Sosa stated that he had accidentally used the corked bat, which he claimed he only used during batting practice. But they soon interviewed the Cubs head coach, who said that any use of corked bats on his team is strictly prohibited. On June 6, Sosa was suspended for eight games. However, the suspension was reduced to seven games after appeal on June 11. Sosa finished the season with 40 home runs, and he hit two more in the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins.

In May , Sosa suffered an odd 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 during the last week of the season. He finished with 35 homers, far below his numbers of his best years.

Baltimore Orioles and year off (2005-2006)

The final straw for the Cubs seemed to be an incident in late 2004. Sosa requested to sit out the last game of the season, which was at home against the Atlanta Braves, and he left Wrigley Field early in the game. On January 28, 2005, the Cubs traded Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston, Jr., infielder Mike Fontenot, and RHP Dave Crouthers. 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 for the 2005 season, with the Cubs paying $7 million of his salary. By playing for the 2005 Orioles alongside fellow 500-home-run batter Rafael Palmeiro, Sosa and Palmeiro became the first 500 home run club members in history to play together on the same team after reaching the 500 home run plateau (Hank Aaron reached 500 homers shortly after his teammate Eddie Matthews (512 homers) retired. Willie McCovey reached 500 shortly after his teammate Willie Mays had left the Giants).

Sosa finished the 2005 season batting .221 with 14 home runs, his worst performance since 1992, and continuing his post-2001 trend of declines in batting average, homers, total bases, and RBI. On December 7, 2005, the Orioles decided not to offer him an arbitration contract, effectively ending his Baltimore Orioles tenure and making him a free agent.

In 2005, The Sporting News published an update of their 1999 book Baseball's 100 Greatest Players. Sosa did not make the original edition, but for the 2005 update, with his career totals considerably higher, he was ranked at Number 95. During a stretch of nine consecutive years, Sosa hit 35+ home runs and 100+ RBIs, all with the Chicago Cubs.

At the end of January 2006, the Washington Nationals offered Sosa two different minor-league offers, both of which he turned down. On February 15, 2006, Sosa's agent Adam Katz stated: "We're not going to put him on the retirement list. We decided that [not putting him on that list] was the best thing to do. But I can say, with reasonable certainty, that we've seen Sammy in a baseball uniform for the last time.

During this year, Sosa accompanied President Fernandez of the Dominican Republic on several diplomatic trips including to the United States, Japan, and Taiwan.

Return to Texas and retirement (2007-2008)

The Texas Rangers, Sosa's original team, signed him to a minor league deal worth $500,000 on January 30, 2007. This was the same contract that Sosa turned down the previous year from the Nationals. The contract included an invitation to spring training, where Sosa competed for a spot in the lineup with Nelson Cruz, Jason Botts, and other rookies/prospects. Sosa was successful during spring training and was added to the team's 25-man roster. He started the 2007 season as the Rangers' designated hitter and occasional right fielder.

On April 26, 2007, Sosa made history by hitting a home run in his 45th major league ballpark. He has also homered in The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports, near Orlando, Florida, a usually minor-league park that had a regular season series between the Rangers and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in May 2007.

On June 20, 2007, Sammy homered in the 5th inning on a pitch from Jason Marquis in an inter-league game against his old team, the Chicago Cubs. Sammy became only the fifth man in history, following Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds, to hit 600 regular season home runs.

The home run was the first one that Sosa had recorded against the Cubs, and as a result he has hit a home run against every active MLB team. Sosa is the Cubs all-time home run leader with 545 home runs with that team.

Sosa became a free agent after the season.

On May 28, , Sosa announced that he is planning to retire from Major League Baseball. Sosa also instructed his agent not to offer his services to any Major League team for the 2008 season. He might play some games for a Dominican Republic national team.

Statistics

Year Team G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R SB BB K AVG E
Rangers/White Sox 58 183 47 8 0 4 13 27 7 11 47 .257 4
Chicago White Sox 153 532 124 26 10 15 70 72 32 33 150 .233 13
Chicago White Sox 116 316 64 10 1 10 33 39 13 14 98 .203 6
Chicago Cubs 67 262 68 7 2 8 25 41 15 19 63 .260 6
Chicago Cubs 159 598 156 25 5 33 93 92 36 38 135 .261 9
Chicago Cubs 105 426 128 17 6 25 70 59 22 25 92 .300 7
Chicago Cubs 144 564 151 17 3 36 119 89 34 58 134 .268 13
Chicago Cubs 124 498 136 21 2 40 100 84 18 34 134 .273 10
Chicago Cubs 162 642 161 31 4 36 119 90 22 35 174 .251 8
Chicago Cubs 159 643 198 20 0 66 158 134 18 73 171 .308 9
Chicago Cubs 162 625 180 24 2 63 141 114 7 78 171 .288 9
Chicago Cubs 156 604 193 38 1 50 138 106 7 91 168 .320 10
Chicago Cubs 160 577 189 34 5 64 160 146 0 116 153 .328 6
Chicago Cubs 150 566 160 19 2 49 108 122 2 103 144 .288 6
Chicago Cubs 137 517 144 22 0 40 103 99 0 62 143 .279 5
Chicago Cubs 126 478 121 21 0 35 80 69 0 56 133 .253 4
Baltimore Orioles 102 380 84 15 1 14 45 39 1 39 84 .221 3
DNP 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 0
Texas Rangers 114 412 104 24 1 21 92 53 0 34 112 .252 0
TOTALS 2354 8813 2408 379 45 609 1667 1475 234 929 2306 .273 128

References

http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/historical/individual_stats_player.jsp?c_id=mlb&playerID=122544

See also

External links

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