This Date in Chicago Cubs History: Sammy Sosa hits 20th homer of June
By Jake Misener
It’s oddly fitting that, as we look back on this date in Chicago Cubs history at Sammy Sosa’s historic performance in June 1998, another former Cub continues to grow increasingly relevant to this topic in slugging outfielder Kyle Schwarber.
But, before we delve too deeply into what the now-Washington Nationals outfielder has accomplished this month, let’s turn the clock back to the summer of ’98, when Sosa battled it out with Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire and Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. in the home run race.
It was on this date, the final day of June, that the eventual National League MVP belted his 20th home run of the month – making him the first MLB player to ever smack 20 or more long-balls in a single calendar month.
That month, Sosa slugged .842 – with 22 extra-base hits (he added a pair of doubles to his staggering home run total for good measure) – making up serious ground on McGwire. Of course, Big Mac fended off his rival’s late-season surge, finishing the year with 70 round-trippers to Sosa’s 66.
Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber is in Sammy Sosa territory right now
Fast forward to June 2021 and another outfielder is hitting balls out of the yard at an otherworldly pace in Schwarber, who smacked his 16th long-ball of June on Tuesday. No other big leaguer, save Sosa, has ever hit more in a single calendar month.
Last winter, the Cubs chose to part ways with Schwarber, who now ranks among the league leaders with 25 homers on the year for a surging Washington Nationals ball club. On a near-nightly basis lately, the former first-rounder and 2016 World Series hero has put his power on display for the Nats and the juxtaposition to Sosa’s June 1998 is perfectly timed.
Now, I don’t think we can peg Schwarber for the type of illustrious career Sosa turned in (PEDs and corked bats be damned, this guy was good). But seeing him etch his name into the baseball history books in such a dramatic fashion has sure been fun and, for those of us who were just kids back in 1998, it’s really put both men’s hot streaks in perspective in a big way.