Growing up a Cubs fan in the late 1990s and early 2000s, one of my first baseball memories was Sammy Sosa clobbering a home run just to stare into the dugout camera and shoot a kiss to anyone watching. More often than not, Chicago would be down by at least five runs, but the charade always managed to put a smile on my face.
However, the Sosa legacy should be more than a couple hundred meaningless home runs. It’s time for the Cubs to retire the No. 21 that Sosa made famous.
10 years worth of steroid allegations have put a major dark spot on Sosa’s tenure in the Windy City, yet facts are facts and like it or not “Slammin’ Sammy” has never tested positive for a banned substance. Of course, the rumors and his large frame will surely keep No. 21 out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In fact, 2012 was his first year of eligibility and Sosa received a lousy 12.55% of the votes — to get into the Hall a candidate must receive at least 75% of the baseball writer’s votes in a given year.
All juice aside, the Cubs are embarrassing themselves by not paying homage to the club’s all-time leader in home runs. It’s not just the home runs that made Sosa so great though, he had a knack for scoring runs — Sammy’s 1,245 runs scored in a Cubs uniform puts him sixth in Chicago’s team history. Here’s what I don’t understand: Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo place third, fourth, fifth and eighth on this list, respectively, and all have their numbers retired by the Cubs, yet Sosa remains on the outside looking in.
No. 21 was described as a professional during his 13 years in Chicago and actually won the Roberto Clemente Award in 1998, which is given to the single-most MLB player who combines good play and strong work in the community.
You can hate Sosa all you’d like, but it’s unfair for the Cubs to take the holier than now approach when it was No. 21 who brought millions of fans to Wrigley Field and the Cubs hardly complained. Do the right thing and give Sammy his long-awaited honor, Chicago.