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Sammy Sosa's Biography

Samuel Sosa Peralta was born on November 12, 1968 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. His parents Lucrecia and Bautista were not well off and Sammy had a hard childhood, with his father passing away when he was just seven. His family lived in an abandoned hospital while Sammy sold oranges on the street and shined shoes to make ends meet for his mother and six siblings. He started playing baseball at fourteen, but had to use a branch instead of a bat, an old milk carton for a baseball glove and a sock rolled up as a ball.

The Early Years

Sammy Sosa White SoxHis natural talents for the game were very evident at an early age. When he was just fifteen, the Philadelphia Philles attempted to sign him but were disallowed as Sammy was younger than Major League Baseball's minimum age of sixteen. He instead went on to play in some local leagues and a year later in 1985 while working out at the Toronto Blue Jays camp, a Texas Rangers scout by the name of Omar Minaya signed him to his first contract with the Rangers. Sosa was described as "malnourished" in his initial scouting report, but that changed as he began working his way through the Rangers minor league system. Sammy made his major league debut on June 16, 1989 against the New York Yankees and hit is first major league homerun five days later against Roger Clemens and the Boston Red Sox. His time in Texas was short as on July 29, 1989 Sosa was traded by the Rangers along with Scott Fletcher and Wilson Alvarez to the Chicago White Sox for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique.

Sammy Sosa spent parts of the next three seasons with the Chicago White Sox and their minor league teams. In March of 1992, he was traded once again - this time with Ken Patterson to the cross-town Chicago Cubs in exchange for George Bell. By the 1993 season, it was clear that the Cubs had pried away a jewel from the White Sox. In his first full season with the Cubs, Sammy became the first 30-30 player in the team's long history. As history would tell us later on, Sammy was just getting warmed up. He played in his first All-Star Game on July 11, 1995 in the home stadium of his former team (Rangers) in Arlington, Texas. He completed his second 30-30 campaign with the Cubs and became the first player in the 20th century to lead the Cubs in homers and steals for three straight years.

The Home Run Derby

Sammy Sosa Home Run Swing By the mid-1990s, Sammy had become a consistant 30-40 home run player. In 1997 he signed a four year $42.5 million dollar contract with the Cubs but the real special show began in 1998. That year saw Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa go head-to-head to see who could hit more home runs. McGwire had the early lead but by late August, they were going back and forth. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs that year but Sammy Sosa wasn't that far behind with 66 and both beat Roger Maris' long standing single season record of 63 home runs in a year. That season proved to be one where Major League Baseball finally had something good going for itself with fans clammering to get more of McGwire and Sosa. He and Mark shared Sports Illustrated magazine's 1998 "Sportsmen of the Year" award. After that frenetic year, Sammy still had a lot more still left in the tank. Over the next four seasons, he did not miss a beat.

During the 1999 season, Sammy was once again going up against Mark McGwire in the home run race. Sosa belted 63 home runs that year while Mark hit 65. The next year saw a drop off in home runs hit across the league but Sammy Sosa was still on top, hitting 50 homeruns in 2000 and taking the home run crown. In 2001, he continued his big long ball production putting 64 balls out of the ballpark. This feat made him the the only player to have hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons. He stayed on pace in 2002 by hitting another 49 home runs. His trademark post home run ritual of doing a hop, a kiss and touching his heart had become a very familiar sight in Chicago's historic Wrigley Field.

Controversies

Sosa Bat Things began to go south for Sammy Sosa in the 2003 season. For the first time in his career, injuries saw him miss playing time and a controversy surrounding the use of corked bat further exasberated his decline. Sosa claimed that the corked bat was one that he only used for batting practice and was suspended for seven games. Major League Baseball conducted an investigation that included x-raying all of his bats and did not find any evidence to suggest systematic cheating. Sammy still hit 40 home runs and the Cubs came five outs from playing in the World Series. The following year saw Sammy injure his back after sneezing. The fluke incident saw him go on the disabled list for just the second time in his career and left him with chronic back spasms. As his play suffered, so did his relationship with manager Dusty Baker and apparently with his fellow Cub players. He showed up late for the last game of the 2004 season and when told that he would not be starting that evening, walked out of Wrigley field. That would happen to be the last time Sammy would do that as a Cub.

Sosa Orioles On January 28, 2005 the Cubs traded Sammy Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles for Jerry Hairston, Jr. and two minor league prospects. He had a very disappointing year in Baltimiore playing in just 102 games and hitting 14 home runs and driving in 45 runs. But the year also saw investigations into steroid use in sports. The BALCO investigation and Jose Canseco's book had already put the drug spotlight on baseball. During hearings in front of the United States Congress, Mark McGwire refused to answer questions about past steroid use but Sammy Sosa was quite clear when he said that he never used illegal steroids. Sosa did acknowledge (as did Barry Bonds) to using creatine, which is a completely legal nutritional supplement. But the general public was getting skeptical and Sosa along with other recent power hitters like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, have been cast in a negative light. The potentially future hall of famer sat out the 2006 baseball season and returned in 2007 with the team that had originally drafted him - The Texas Rangers. Sammy Sosa played his final MLB season with the Rangers, hitting 21 home runs and driving in a very respectable 92 runs. His most recent appearance in the news was in a strange story where it was shown/reported that Sammy had gotten "treatment" to lighten the colour of his skin.