CHICAGO – For the first time in over two decades, fans of Major League Baseball had the chance to watch the chase for a home run record.
That came to an end on Tuesday night when Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the 2022 season against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. That round-tripper by the Yankees outfielder helped him pass Roger Maris for the American League record for most homers in a single season.
Of course, the major league records are all held by National League hitters, with three other players besting the 62 home run mark in a season. One of those is a former Cubs outfielder, who has three of the six best seasons for homers in MLB history.
So after Judge hit his 62 homer, #WGNTBT takes look back at the three times Sammy Sosa reached that mark in a Cubs uniform.
1. SEPTEMBER 13, 1998 – WRIGLEY FIELD – VS BREWERS
In one of the more memorable afternoons in Wrigley Field history in the midst of his home run chase with the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and the Cubs’ race for an NL Wild Card spot, Sosa hit his 61st and 62nd long ball of the season against the Brewers.
After a two-run homer in the 5th, Sosa blasted No. 62 off Eric Plunk in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the ball ending up on Waveland Avenue in a sea of fans hoping to catch it. That allowed Sosa to pass Maris on the all-time list and pull into a tie with McGwire, who had 62 homers at that point.
The game was paused for a few minutes before Sosa emerged from the dugout a few times to give a curtain call after the record-typing homer. After the Cubs won the game on a Mark Grace solo shot, a few teammates carried Sosa off the field.
Sosa would finish with 66 homers on the season but it was McGwire who beat him for the original record of 70 homers.
2. SEPTEMBER 28, 1999 – VS PHILLIES – VETERANS STADIUM
Sosa would once again reach the 62 home run mark in 1999, doing so a little later in the season for a Cubs team that wasn’t in playoff contention.
But he’d reach the mark in the ninth inning again, this time taking an Anthony Schumaker pitch deep to left field for a two-run homer in a Cubs’ victory over the Phillies at Veterans Stadium.
In the final week, Sosa hit one more home run in St. Louis to finish the season with 63, which is the sixth-best in MLB history.
3. OCTOBER 5, 2001 – VS PIRATES – WRIGLEY FIELD
In what many consider his best overall season in baseball, where he had career-highs in batting average (.328) and RBI (160), Sosa reached the 62 homer mark for a third and final time.
Facing David Williams of the Pirates in the bottom of the fourth inning, Sosa hit a solo homer into left field bleachers for No. 62 in front of the home fans.
That was part of an incredible finish to the 2001 season in which he homered in five of his last six games to finish with 64 homers, the second-highest total of his career and the fifth-most in MLB history.
Sosa finished his career with 609 home runs, with 545 coming as a member of the Cubs, which is a franchise record. From 1998-2003, Sosa hit at least 40 long balls and in four of those years went over the 50 mark.
Like McGwire and Barry Bonds, who holds the MLB record for homers in a season with 73 in 2001, Sosa’s marks have come under scrutiny due to the rampant steroid use of that era. He nor Bonds have ever admitted to using them, but McGwire did in 2010.
The Cubs have yet to formally welcome Sosa back to Wrigley Field or induct him into the team’s Hall of Fame since he was traded from the team after the 2004 season.