‘Long Gone Summer’: Relive Sammy Sosa & Mark McGwire’s Historic Home-Run Chase

Sammy Sosa Mark McGwire Long Gone Summer Preview
JOHN ZICH/AFP via Getty Images; Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Four years after labor strife led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and the disillusionment of millions of fans, Major League Baseball got the shot in the arm it desperately needed. In the summer of 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire (above right) and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa (above left) embarked on a historic chase of Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs in a single season—a national obsession revisited in this 30 for 30 installment.

On September 8, with more than 40 million TV viewers holding their breath, McGwire hit No. 62 vs. the Cubs in St. Louis. He ended the season with 70; Sosa, 66.

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“The home-run chase was a feel-good thing,” says broadcaster Bob Costas. “But in retrospect, there was a price to pay for it.” Accusations of performance-enhancing drug use would tarnish both men’s accomplishments (McGwire admitted to using steroids in 2010) and damage the integrity of the sport.

For this docuseries, the athletes talk at length about the subject for the first time in decades. “What Mark and I did in ’98 was incredible,” Sosa maintains. Indeed it was.

Long Gone Summer, Documentary Premiere, Sunday, June 14, 9/8c, ESPN