When Roger Maris mashed 61 dingers in 1961 to break Babe Ruth’s single-season record, it was a mark that stood for a long time. A really long time. For a while, no one was really even all that close — Willie Mays hit 52 a few years later, and that was about it for several decades until Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr. reached the high 50s in 1997. And then 1998 happened.
2018 means that the incredible 1998 home run chase between McGwire and Sammy Sosa (and Griffey, until the calendar started getting into August) is now 20 years in our rearview mirrors. We fondly remember the 136 home runs the two sluggers clobbered to finally smash Maris’ record. It was the culmination of nothing but focus, determination, and good, clean exercise.
And while a whole lot of pitchers were victimized by them, one pitcher in particular had best-mastered keeping them in the ballpark. Which also sparked an investigation into the kings of neutering these two men throughout the course of their illustrious careers.