Former Chicago Cubs Turk Wendell had a mouthful to say about Sammy Sosa
On Sunday night, the long-awaited documentary about the summer of 1998 premiered on ESPN. The “Long Gone Summer” 30 for 30 documentary gave fans and players alike the opportunity to reminisce upon the great home run race that took place between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.
While Sosa was a fan favorite back in those days, not everybody loved him. In fact, one person who felt differently is former Chicago Cubs reliever Turk Wendell, who ended up blasting Sosa during an interview on WFAN on Monday.
Wendell, 53, played with Sosa on the Cubs from 1993 to 1997, and gave insight as to what playing with him was like. While Sosa was already in the major leagues for four years and having played on three different teams, the pair still got to know each other very well. Not only was this shown from how Wendell recalls his time playing with Sosa, but also by his anecdotes about how the two spent time together off the field.
"“One of the worst teammates ever,” said Wendell. “He only cared about himself, hitting home runs. He didn’t care if we lost 20-1, if he hit a home run he was happy.” h/t Mollie Walker, New York Post"
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As for the time they spent together one-on-one off the field, Wendell shared a story about going to a shooting range in Arizona with Sosa. According to Wendell, Sosa ignored safety protocol and did whatever he wanted, including ignoring restrictions against rapidly firing guns.
"Wendell said, “That was just Sosa being Sosa, I guess. One-on-one, off the field, he was a good dude. And we went to a shooting range a couple of times. But Sammy was kind of just all about Sammy. … Sometimes some players get so used to people bowing down to them, giving them everything they want, they just think they can do whatever they want. He took that to the next level.”"
In 1997, Wendell’s four-year tenure with the North Chicago ballclub ended as he found himself being traded to the New York Mets. This meant that Wendell was gone before the summer of 1998 when Sosa and McGwire took part in the famous home run chase. However, he does claim that Sosa’s attitude became even worse, and he continued to cause havoc in the Cubs’ locker room.
"“It got so bad after I had left that he was in the clubhouse playing music and stuff after I guess they lost and I think it was Kerry Wood, just beat the absolute snot out of his stereo system, which was Sammy’s,” Wendell said."
While Sosa reached the height of his career in the late 1990s, things began to dismantle, and his career started coming to an end. Sosa’s reputation was at stake after corking his bat, and speculating began circulating his name about the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Sosa never admitted to taking PEDs, but the suspicion alone has kept him out of Baseball’s Hall of Fame. When asked about this during the interview, Wendell did not say he knew Sosa took PEDs, but he did say that once testing began in 2003, Sosa was done for.
Sosa hit 35 or more home runs every year from 1995 until 2004, then hit just 14 homers with the Baltimore Orioles in 2005. Whether this is a coincidence or not, since this happened following the beginning of testing for PEDs remains to be seen.
"“It’s sad because he was talented,” Wendell said. “He went from hitting 60 home runs to 12 or 14 with Baltimore and the next thing you know he’s out of the game.”"