The Last Dance has captured the attention of sports fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Michael Jordan-focused documentary has provided them with an opportunity to reminisce about the 1990s Chicago Bulls and has inspired discussions about any potential follow-up series. Now ESPN has revealed that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire's 1998 home run battle will be the focus of an upcoming 30 for 30.
According to a press release, Long Gone Summer, which is directed by AJ Schnack, will debut on Sunday, June 14, at 9 p.m. ET. McGwire was turning heads with the St. Louis Cardinals while Sosa was impressing MLB fans with the Chicago Cubs. The two baseball stars were racing each other to hit 61 home runs during a single season. This was a record originally set by Roger Maris in 1961 and both players had every intention of breaking it in 1998.
It was one of the most memorable and significant seasons in the history of baseball. In the summer of 1998, the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa embarked on a chase of one of the game’s most hallowed records, igniting the passion and imagination of fans and non-fans everywhere. The drama, excitement, and results would be remembered for generations. If we only knew then just how complex our feelings about it all would eventually become.
Ultimately, both players broke Maris' record. McGwire did so against Sosa's Cubs and finished his season with 70. Sosa finished in second place with 66. However, this race was later marred by controversy. The 30 for 30 documentary will cover this race while providing in-depth interviews with both McGwire and Sosa.
This home run battle between McGwire and Sosa took place during professional baseball's steroid era, and both players were linked to the scandal. The Cardinals star later revealed in 2010 that he had used steroids throughout his entire career, including the 1998 season. Although McGwire later said that he didn't believe the steroids gave him extra power to hit home runs.
"I was given a gift to hit home runs," McGwire said to Bob Costas on MLB Network. "I truly believe so. I believe I was given this gift. The only reason I took steroids was for health purposes." McGwire also said that he had studied pitchers during his career and had shortened his swing to increase his home run numbers.
Sosa, on the other hand, was among a large group of players that tested positive for steroid use in 2003. The retired baseball star was later asked about any alleged use, and he responded by saying that "I never had a positive test in this country." When pressed for clarification, Sosa repeated that he had never had a positive test.