A large statue representing legend Ernie Banks has rested outside Wrigley Field since 2008, recognizing the true greatness of Mr. Cub. The memorial serves an enjoyable purpose for fans who get to see Banks’ bronze replica next to the Friendly Confines on a daily basis. But for former Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa, that statue might be a constant reminder of what he does not have himself.
“I passed Ernie Banks for most home runs in Chicago Cubs history,” Sosa said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “He has a statue, and I don’t have nothing. So, what the f--k?”
Here, Sosa does not imply that he specifically wants a statue like Banks, but he does bring up his place in Cubs’ history, which has been in question since he left the team in 2004.
Does Sosa deserve the recognition Banks has received over the years?
Sosa had a Hall of Fame-caliber career, winning six Silver Sluggers and being named a seven-time All-Star with Chicago. He had arguably the best year of his career in 1998, winning National League MVP and batting .308 with 66 home runs and 158 RBIs.
In 13 years with the Cubs, Sosa hit 545 homers, surpassing Banks’ total, and achieved a slash line of .284/.358/.569 with 1,414 RBIs. These are the kind of stats that make the former right fielder think about the way he is remembered in Chicago.
Banks played 19 seasons with the Cubs, hitting 512 home runs while knocking in 1,636 runs, giving him the advantage over Sosa in RBIs. Both players performed at a memorable level.
As of right now, only a small flag at Wrigley Field commemorates the Dominican slugger’s career. Unlike Banks’ number 14, Sosa’s number 21 with the Cubs is not retired.
Could this be due to the controversy that surrounded Sosa’s career?
Despite holding a multitude of team records, one of Sosa’s most unforgettable moments happened in 2003 when he was caught using a corked bat. He also fought allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.
In the interview with Sports Illustrated, Sosa spoke about his complicated relationship with the Ricketts family, who currently own the Cubs.
“They come in and buy the team and they have a mark on me, and I don’t know why,” Sosa said in the interview.
Another knock on Sosa over the last 15 years has been his ego after exploding as a star in the 1998 season.
In an interview with NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan this past spring, Sosa attempted to shoot down any talks of his arrogance.
“I’m a humble man,” he told Kaplan. “I’m not a man to have ego.”
But the Sports Illustrated piece mentions that a source close to the Cubs said Sosa agreed to issue an apology to achieve a ‘homecoming,’ but he changed his mind the next day.
He has not been invited to Cubs Convention or back to Wrigley Field to throw out a first pitch or sing the Seventh Inning Stretch.
For now, Sosa remains only a part of the Cubs’ past.