It has been nearly 30 years since the Chicago Cubs made one of the more important trades in franchise history. On March 30, 1992, the Cubs sent All-Star outfielder George Bell to the crosstown White Sox for a young outfielder named Sammy Sosa. While Bell played only two seasons with the White Sox, Sosa turned into one of the sport’s best hitters and most marketable players.
Just how good was Sammy Sosa, and what is his relationship with the Cubs like now? Let’s take a trip back in time.
Sammy Sosa is one of the best players in Cubs history
When the Chicago Cubs acquired Sammy Sosa that spring, they were hoping a light-hitting, strikeout-prone outfielder who’d shown flashes of power and speed before would thrive in a new environment. Those hopes were fulfilled in 1993 when Sosa, playing a career-high 159 games, hit .260 with 33 home runs, 93 RBIs, and 36 stolen bases in 47 tries. Sosa finished eighth in NL MVP voting in 1995 and made his first All-Star team in 1996 a year later.
When 1998 arrived, however, everything changed. Sosa mashed 66 home runs, which would have been a record if not for Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire‘s 70. The home run race between the two is credited with helping baseball regain popularity and momentum after the 1994 strike. Sosa won MVP honors that year and posted two more seasons with 60+ home runs.
Sosa ended his Cubs career with a team-record 545 home runs, 1,414 RBIs, and seven All-Star nods. Those numbers alone should have netted him a spot in the Hall of Fame, but things are never that simple.
The Chicago Cubs currently have a complicated relationship with Sosa
Sammy Sosa‘s final years didn’t go as planned. Sosa was suspended eight games, later reduced to seven on appeal, after umpires found he’d been using a corked bat in June 2003. After Sosa missed time with back spasms in 2004, he admitted to battling depression and finished the year with a .253 average, his lowest since 1997. When Sosa requested to sit out the last game of the 2004 season, he was caught leaving Wrigley Field early in the game.
Chicago traded Sosa to Baltimore in 2005, but he hit just .221 with 14 home runs. Sosa sat out the 2006 season and returned to Texas, where he began his career, in 2007. Sosa hit .252 with 21 home runs and 92 RBIs with the Rangers. Fittingly, Sosa hit his 600th career home run that year in an interleague game against the Cubs.
Sosa has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs in his post-baseball career. The New York Times reported in June 2009 that Sosa tested positive in baseball’s steroid scandal in 2003. Although MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said those tests were inconclusive, the Cubs have repeatedly said Sosa isn’t welcome back to the organization unless he apologizes.
Sammy Sosa has never publicly apologized or admitted to using steroids. Sosa only appeared on 13.9% of Hall of Fame votes this year.
What else happened in baseball on March 30?
- The Red Sox added a future Hall of Famer to their rotation on March 30, 1978. Boston sent pitcher Rick Wise and three other players to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Dennis Eckersley and catcher Fred Kendall. Eckersley won 20 games with a 2.99 ERA for the Red Sox, who missed the playoffs after a collapse and a Game 163 loss to the rival Yankees. Eckersley went 88-71 with 64 complete games and 10 shutouts for the Red Sox from 1978-1984.
- It’s a good day to be Charlie Brown. After 43 years, the Peanuts character finally his a home run — a ninth-inning, game-winning bomb — in a strip released March 30, 1993. There was plenty of joy in Minnesota that day.
- Milwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich continued his torrid start to the 2019 season. Yelich homers for the third straight game in a 4-2 victory over the rival Cardinals. Yelich ends his second season with the Brewers with a career-high 44 home runs and .329 average in 130 games.