Sosa Won Roberto Clemente Award and America’s Hearts in 1998 Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Friday, 29 October 2010


One of the annual highlights of the World Series is the presentation of The Roberto Clemente Award to the MLB player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team", as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.  So it was only fitting that one of 1998’s most popular and successful players should receive this honor after the 1998 season:  Slammin’ Sammy Sosa (609 HRs)  


The award was renamed from the Commissioner’s Trophy in 1973 in honor of Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente, who was killed in a plane crash in 1972 while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Throughout his career, and especially in 1998, Sammy Sosa exemplified the philanthropic spirit and love of the game. In winning the prestigious award for community service, Sosa became only the second Hispanic recipient of the exclusive honor, following Panamanian-born Rod Carew who was honored in 1977. (Note: Since that time three Hispanic stars - Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez in 2004, NY Met Carlos Delgado, and Albert Pujols in 2008) have been subsequently honored with the award.)

In 1998, major league baseball was still struggling with the “low attendance hangover” from the mid-90’s baseball strike, and it desperately needed something to ignite the fan base into returning to major league ballparks.  That “something” turned out to be Sosa’s colorful personality, dynamic batting style and winning smile, which made him a household name. Although he ended the ‘98 season second to McGwire with 66 home runs — it was still five more than the previous record and more than enough to cement Sosa’s place as one of history’s most dynamic home run hitters.

In true Roberto Clemente style, Sammy Sosa not only gave to the local Chicago community, but to his homeland of the Dominican Republic as well. In the Dominican he has financed a $1.2 million office/retail building known as "30-30 Plaza." With the building of this facility, Sammy has employed hundreds of local citizens. Back in Chicago, Sammy launched "Sammy Claus," where he visited five U.S. cities distributing 7,000 toys to underprivileged children. He also sponsors two RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) Teams and frequently speaks to kids about the importance of education. These are just a few of Sammy's many civic and community contributions.

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