Sosa paused. Shaking his head and avoiding a direct answer, he repeated several times, “I never tested positive.”
The New York Times reported in 2009 that 104 MLB players tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2003 season. The original tests included around 1,200 players. Positive tests reported on that list included perennial All-Stars Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and the then-retired Sammy Sosa.
As for Sosa, he continues to deny any involvement as recently as 2018. His fame and popularity hasn’t slowed his life after baseball, though.
Sammy Sosa’s Early Life
Samuel Kelvin Peralta Sosa was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. Sosa’s father, Juan Montero, died when Sosa was seven, leaving his mother to raise six children in a small apartment.
Shortly after Sosa began playing baseball in middle school, he signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies — It was later void because he was only 15 years old.
The Texas Rangers successfully signed Sosa at 16 years old with a $3,500 signing bonus. Sosa made his major league debut three years later on June 16, 1989.
MLB Contracts & Baseball Career
Sosa’s first career home run came in his sixth game against the Boston Red Sox and Roger Clemens. (Go figure.) About a month later, he was traded from Texas to the Chicago White Sox where he’d play 302 games in three years.
Prior to the 1992 season, Sosa and pitcher Ken Patterson were traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange 1987 AL MVP George Bell.
Two years later, Sosa became the first Cubs baseball player to tally 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season, and quickly became one of baseball’s best hitters.
Sosa hit a then-career-high 36 home runs and 119 RBIs to earn his first All-Star selection and Silver Slugger award in 1995 as Chicago’s everyday right fielder.
Midway through 1997, he signed a four-year, $42.5 million extension to remain with the Cubs. The following year produced his crowning achievement, the famous home run chase alongside St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire.
Sosa vs. McGwire: 1998 Home Run Chase
Together, Sosa and McGwire pursued Roger Maris’ 61 home run record — a single-season feat that stood since 1961. Tied with 46 home runs each on August 10, McGwire became the first to reach and break Maris’ mark on September 8. One week later, Sosa rallied and caught him again at 62 apiece.
McGwire clubbed four dingers over his final two games to set the new MLB record at 70; Sosa became the first player to hit 66 home runs despite McGwire ending on top. Sosa led the majors in RBIs (158), runs (134) and total bases (416). He also led baseball with 171 strikeouts, which didn’t stop him from winning his first and only National League Most Valuable Player Award that year.
That memorable chase was highlighted in the ESPN 30 for 30 film “Long Gone Summer.”
“Slammin’ Sammy” collected 226 home runs and 547 RBIs while maintaining a .306 batting average over four-straight All-Star seasons. In 2001, Sosa signed a $72 million contract extension, giving him the league’s fourth-highest annual salary behind A-Rod, Manny Ramirez and Derek Jeter.
The 1998 MVP made his final All-Star appearance at age 35 in 2004. The next season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. He played his final year with the Texas Rangers in 2007, hitting 21 home runs and 92 RBIs as the team’s designated hitter.
No player in MLB history has more home runs in a 10-year span that Sosa’s 479 dingers from 1995-04. His 609 career bombs rank ninth on baseball’s all-time leaderboard.
According to Baseball Reference, Sosa earned $124,068,000 over the course of his career. As of 2021, that ranks 98th all time.
Sosa’s popularity exploded after the 1998 season. The charismatic Cub signed million-dollar endorsement deals with PepsiCo, Montgomery Ward, Latin American telco TriCom among almost two dozen other companies.
High Heat Baseball 2001 made Sammy Sosa its cover athlete. “Slammin’ Sammy’s Frosted Flakes” hit shelves all over the country.
Sosa became a symbol of American awesomeness when he sprinted onto Wrigley Field holding an American flag in Chicago’s first home game after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
That same game, Sosa hit a home run and carried a flag as he rounded the bases.
Is Sammy Sosa in the Hall of Fame?
Despite all the positive moments Sosa brought to Major League Baseball, he continues to be left out of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The steroid allegations paired with the infamous corked bat incident of 2003 haven’t won Sosa over with the HOF voters.
Since his first year on the ballot, Sosa’s voting record isn’t getting closer to reaching the required 75 percent mark:
Sosa’s Hall of Fame Voting Record
If a player isn’t named on 75 percent of ballots, they aren’t inducted. If they aren’t on at least five percent of ballots, they’re dropped entirely. MLB players can be on Hall-of-Fame balloting for 10 years before they are removed from future opportunities.
Barring a miracle, Slammin’ Sammy Sosa will not be enshrined in Cooperstown by the time 2022 rolls around.
Business Ventures and Personal Life
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Sosa revealed limited details about his business decisions after baseball, but said that he had varied interests in the Dominican Republic, Panama, United Kingdom, and United Arab Emirates that range from oil to beverage and hospitality to real estate.
In April 2019, a New Orleans law firm reportedly tried to serve Sosa a lawsuit, alleging he owed $161,500 to an Aspen rental property where he’d stayed during the 2017-18 winter holiday season.
Sosa married Sonia Rodriguez in 2004, and they share six children: Keysha, Kenia, Sammy Jr., Michael, Kalexy and Rolando. Prior to meeting Rodriguez, Sosa was previously married to ex-wife Karen Lee Bright, though they split up after two years of marriage.
Sosa’s new appearance caused a stir in recent years as his lightened skin tone is the result of using bleaching cream.
Sammy Sosa Net Worth
Sammy Sosa’s net worth is estimated around $70 million in 2021, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Sosa might never find himself in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but from where he’s sitting, it doesn’t matter. Sosa seems more than content with his current life.
This post was originally published on May 29, 2020.