Brisbee: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run race is being misremembered

From SABR member Grant Brisbee at SB Nation on September 5, 2018:

People born after [Mark] McGwire and [Sammy] Sosa might think they’ve experienced an entire nation in the grips of baseball mania, whether it was with the Cubs or Red Sox winning the World Series, or the two separate Barry Bonds record chases, but they’ve never lived through an editor at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger deciding that a huge update on Ole Miss football was roughly the fourth- or fifth-most important story of the day. McGwire-Sosa Mania was something that turned the end of [Cal] Ripken’s streak into something that needed to be buried at the bottom of the front page.

The Home Run Chase of ‘98 was something that made tollbooth operators hold up traffic because they needed to ask someone wearing a Cardinals hat if anything happened. It was responsible for Sunday sermons that weaved biblical narratives together with the home run chase. It was why barbers and hairstylists held court about baseball all day, and it was why taxi drivers spent 10 hours a day on McGwire-Sosa small talk, only to wake up the next morning and happily do the same thing for another 10 hours.

It was a shared moment in time for millions, a beautifully raw nerve ending that kept getting hit, kept releasing endorphins, kept thrilling an entire hemisphere. It was tremendous fun, even if it didn’t age perfectly.

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Originally published: September 5, 2018. Last Updated: September 5, 2018.