I took the long way to work today. I got off the 2 train at Chambers Street and headed east so I could cut down Broadway and find Sammy Sosa’s sidewalk marker:
October 17, 1998, Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs Baseball Player, Who Broke The Single Season Home Run Record.
Sosa owned the city that day. He cut a path through a sea of cheers and Dominican flags. How could anyone not love him? He plays with a hop and a pop and a smile. Even Mark McGwire, who hit more home runs than Sosa in 1998, loves the guy. “How could you not?” he shrugged.
Last night Sosa hit his 600th home run. It was an opposite-field drive to right centerfield in Arlington, Texas, against the Chicago Cubs.
A man bent down on Broadway this morning and patted the sidewalk that marked Sosa’s day. “He’s a good man. I’m happy for him.”
Sosa still makes New York smile. The man who trails only Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in home runs, speaks to the best qualities of this immigrant city. He is a hero of the people and should be carried down Broadway again when his career is finally over.
That probably won’t happen because a lot has changed since 1998. Sosa has been dragged down by people who never hit a baseball or lived his life.
He has been called before a House Government Reform Committee and now George Mitchell’s investigation on steroids in baseball has requested his medical records. These are all people who have served a government that helps further economic policies to impoverish countries like the Dominican Republic where Sosa was raised, learned to play baseball and seldom had enough to eat.
That twisted irony is an American tradition that people like Sosa have fought forever. His friends may not be the wealthy and powerful that always seem to get their way, but there are more of us.