Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire may be the faces of the steroid era in baseball, but the former Chicago Cubs star does not appear to have any regrets about the 1998 home run chase.
“Pretty much I can say, that year in ’98 we had a plan and we put everything together and we came out on top of everybody else,” Sosa told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt (3:57 mark) when asked about answering for the “sins” of the era. ” … I don’t have no problem to represent anybody else, but what I don’t like is to take blame for somebody else. That was a year that we had to do what we had to do. We [brought] baseball back. So many million people watched us. … After 22 years, it’s been great.”
The chase between McGwire and Sosa was the subject of The Long Gone Summer, a documentary that aired Sunday night on ESPN. Steroids were only a small part of the documentary, which mostly served as a celebration of the summer that the two sluggers brought baseball back after fans turned away following the 1994 strike.
McGwire finished with a record-setting 70 home runs and Sosa with 66, both players smashing the previous record of 61 held by Roger Maris. While there were rumors of steroid use during that season—a reporter even found a bottle of androstenedione, then a legal supplement, in McGwire’s locker—few fans cared as they basked in one of the most joyous summers in MLB history.
That joy was later tarnished, with McGwire, Sosa and Barry Bonds becoming the three position-player faces of the steroid era. Bonds broke McGwire’s home run record in 2001 in a chase that lacked the same zeal, with fans turning their back on the steroid-laced game.
Despite being qualified from a statistical measure and outperforming other cheaters from their era, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa remain out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.