In 1998, Mark McGwire beat Sammy Sosa in the race to eclipse Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. However, the race was very much in the air down the stretch that September.
McGwire hit his 62nd home run on Sept. 8, leaving Sosa four behind with 18 games left on the schedule (the Cubs wound up playing in a Game 163 to clinch a wild-card spot).
Sosa was close but McGwire pulled away in the end. Here’s a look at how the race unfolded in the winding weeks of the season.
Sept. 12 (Cubs vs. Brewers)
On a Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Sosa joined McGwire, Maris and Babe Ruth as the only players in MLB history to hit 60 home runs in a season. (Sosa went on to become the only player to do it three different times.) He moved to within two of McGwire, who had been held without a homer since breaking Maris’ record on Sept. 8.
Sept. 13 (Cubs vs. Brewers)
Sosa tied Maris' record at 61, launching a blast onto Kenmore Ave. off Brewers starter Bronswell Patrick in the fifth inning. He tied McGwire at 62 in the ninth, sending a pitch from Eric Plunk over the left-center bleachers and onto Waveland Ave.
Sept. 16 (Cubs at Padres)
McGwire snapped a six-game homerless streak on Sept. 15 to regain the lead. A day later, Sosa drew even with him at 63, hitting an eighth-inning grand slam off Brian Boehringer. It was Sosa’s third slam of the season after hitting none entering 1998.
Sept. 23 (Cubs at Brewers)
While Sosa went a week without going yard, McGwire homered twice to reach 65 on the season. But Sosa broke out in a big way , hitting Nos. 64 and 65 against Milwaukee — his 11th multi-home run game of the season.
Sosa’s performance was completely overshadowed by how the game ended. Brant Brown dropped a routine fly ball that would have given the Cubs the victory. Instead, three runs scored to give the Brewers the win, and Ron Santo’s cries of “Nooooooo!” can still be heard by Cubs fans today.
Sept. 25 (Cubs at Astros)
Sosa hit one into the third deck of the Astrodome in the top of the fourth inning, becoming the first player to hit 66 homers in a season. But that would be his last home run trot of season.
A short time later in St. Louis, McGwire tied Sosa’s mark. Big Mac homered twice in his next game and then hit two more on the final day of the season to finish the year with 70, leaving Sosa to settle for second place.
More on Sammy Sosa and 1998 MLB season:
-Why Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire 1998 home run race was bad for baseball
-How Cubs came to acquire Sammy Sosa from White Sox ahead of 1992 season
-How Sammy Sosa came out of nowhere to jump into 1998 home run race
-Why Sammy Sosa celebrated Mark McGwire's record-breaking home run with him