Where were you during the summer of 1998?
Just years removed from the strike of 1994, baseball got a jolt of excitement that it desperately craved when Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa, and St. Louis Cardinals first-baseman Mark McGwire engaged in a summer-long chase to break Roger Maris’ single-season home run record (61) set back in 1961.
The chase would end with McGwire hitting the then-record of 70 home runs (Barry Bonds would eventually break that record, finishing the 2001 season with 73), and Sosa finishing with 66 home runs.
Since that magnificent summer, both McGwire and Sosa have suffered significant damage to their reputation, with McGwire being caught in a tangled web of PED allegations, and Sosa of course enduring the embarrassing ‘Corked Bat’ incident during a June 2003 contest against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
All of which will likely be at the heart of the upcoming documentary, directed by AJ Schnack.
Here’s the official statement from ESPN:
It was one of the most memorable and significant seasons in the history of baseball. In the summer of 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa embarked on a chase of one of the game’s most hallowed records, igniting the passion and imagination of fans and non-fans everywhere. The drama, excitement, and results would be remembered for generations. If we only knew then just how complex our feelings about it all would eventually become.
In ESPN’s new 30 for 30 film “Long Gone Summer,” director AJ Schnack takes viewers back to the landmark 1998 baseball season – its tremendous highlights, massive impact, and undeniable complications. Featuring in-depth interviews with both McGwire and Sosa, talking at length for the first time in over two decades, the intimate portrait carries viewers through every twist and turn of the sluggers’ historic chase of Roger Maris’s iconic record of 61 home runs in a single season. With a musical score composed by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, a St. Louis-area native and current Chicago resident, the film is a journey back through time that recalls how seismic and emotional the story was – even as the legitimacy of the accomplishments at its center would later be called into question.Official Release by ESPN
The ESPN 30 for 30 film, ‘Long Gone Sumeer’ will air on June 14 on ESPN, and will be available ESPN+ after its initial debut.
In the meantime, you can watch all 66 home runs by ‘Slammin Sammy’ during the 1998 season in the video below.