From the Pages of Vine Line: Remembering 1998 – Sosa’s 20-homer June

Fifteen years ago, the 1998 Cubs squad became the must-see event of the summer, as viewers around the country tuned in to WGN to see Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood and the cardiac Cubs stage one of the most dramatic seasons in Chicago baseball history. Day after day, it seemed like the team was in a dogfight, and every win turned out to be vital, as the Cubs need an extra, 163rd contest to finalize their postseason push and give Chicago fans their first taste of meaningful October baseball in nearly a decade.

To commemorate all the ups and downs, Vine Line celebrates our 10 greatest moments from that historic 1998 campaign in the October issue of the magazine. Today marks the fifth part of the 10-part series, which we’ll post here on the blog in the coming days.

Sosa

(Photo by Stephen Green)

June, 1998 – Sammy Sosa’s 20-homer month

June was all about Sammy—and that wasn’t just on the North Side. Throughout baseball and all around the country, every time No. 21 stepped to the plate, it was appointment viewing. Sosa clubbed a pair of homers on June 1, one a day from June 5-8, three on June 15, two on June 19 and two more on June 20.

Sosa finished with a major league-record 20 home runs in the month, surpassing Rudy York’s previous record of 18 in a month—set in August 1937—with a blast on June 25.

“All I remember about June was that Sammy seemed to hit a home run every single day. It was just unreal,” said pitcher Steve Trachsel. “It was just going into games wondering, ‘OK, how many is he going to hit today?’”

Diamondbacks lefty Alan Embree was the victim of Sosa’s 20th bomb, which he hit at Wrigley Field on the final night of the month. The moment was so exciting a pair of fans crashed the playing field and waited to congratulate the surprised slugger as he neared third base.

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