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Sammy Sosa Hits His 600th Homerun
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
June 21, 2007

Sammy Sosa made history tonight by becoming the fifth player ever to hit 600 homeruns. Appropriately, Sosa accomplished this feat against the team with whom he hit 549 of those 600 homeruns, the Chicago Cubs. As strange, or perhaps simply appropriate, as that coincidence is, it is only one of many coincidences involving tonight's game between these two teams.

Sosa originally came up with the Rangers. Sammy's 600th homerun comes exactly 18 years to the date of Sosa's first career homerun, which he hit while playing for the Rangers on June 21, 1989 off of Roger Clemens. It would be the only homerun he would hit with the Rangers before being traded to the Chicago White Sox on July 29th of that year.

Sosa hit his 600th homerun against Cubs pitcher Jason Marquis. Sosa wore the number 21 when he was with the Cubs; that number now belongs to Marquis. One batter before Sosa hit his 600th homerun, Marquis struck out Michael Young to record his 600th career strikeout.

Playing first base for the Rangers tonight was Brad Wilkerson, whom the Rangers obtained in a trade with the Washington Nationals for Alfonso Soriano, who now plays centerfield and bats leadoff for the Cubs, which is what Sosa did briefly for the Cubs in 1992.

The leadoff hitters for tonight's game were Soriano for the Cubs and Kenny Lofton for the Rangers. Soriano was the Yankees leadoff hitter from 2001 to 2003, but was replaced by Lofton in 2004 when the Yankees traded Soriano to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez.

Lofton is a former Cub he was acquired by the Cubs in a trade deadline deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates along with current Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez in 2003. After acquiring Lofton and Ramirez, the Cubs went to the NLCS and were one game from the World Series before losing a critical Game Six against the Florida Marlins in which the Marlins scored eight runs in a devastating eighth inning. That inning was broken open when, after a muffed double play ball, current Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee hit a bases loaded double to tie the score at three all.

For those of you paying attention, this means that Soriano and Lofton have each batted leadoff for the Yankees, Cubs, and Rangers. Sosa and Hairston have also each batted leadoff for both the Cubs and Rangers. Sosa and Soriano are both from San Pedro de Marcoris, Domican Republic, while Hairston and Lofton are both from the Chicago area Hairston from Napierville, Lofton from East Chicago, Indiana.

The Rangers also feature Jerry Hairston, Jr., which is the player that the Cubs acquired in the trade that sent Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles in 2005. Hairston's grandfather was named Sammy, and played in Chicago for the White Sox in 1951.

Playing left field for the Rangers tonight was Marlon Byrd, a former Phillies hot prospect who lost his centerfield job in 2005 when the Phillies acquired Lofton in a trade with the Yankees. Byrd was subsequently traded to the Nationals and was the team's regular left-fielder until the following year, when the Nationals acquired Soriano.

Entering tonight's game as a defensive replacement was none other than Mark DeRosa, a Cubs infielder who signed a big free agent contract in the off-season after a breakout season with the Rangers in 2006.

Also entering the game for the Cubs as a late defensive replacement was Cesar Izturis. Izturis was acquired by the Cubs last season from the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was teammates with none other than Kenny Lofton.

Cubs middle reliever Scott Eyre entered the game in the sixth and pitched 1.1 innings, leaving the game after retiring Lofton to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Eyre was originally drafted by the Rangers and was a teammate of Lofton's when both where acquired by the San Francisco Giants as the Giants made their World Series run in 2002.

Lots of fun.

Congratulations to Sammy Sosa on becoming the most recent member of the 600 homerun club.


Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at asher@baseballevolution.com.

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