Updated: Feb 14, 2020
Love Letters From Pronk is an ongoing series where Pronk shares his love for somebody connected to the Cubs. Sometimes funny, sometimes weird, Pronk likes to make 100% sure people know that they are loved, and best expresses that through gushing letters.
I owe a lot to Sammy Sosa. His homer binge in June of 1998 got my interest into baseball and the Cubs. The continued home run race got me hooked. His year in year out peak kept me hooked, despite bad Cubs teams. Put simply, I would not be a Cubs fan if it wasn't for Sosa. I was such a die hard fan, that Slammin Sammy belongs on my Cubs Mount Rushmore forever. On this valentines day, I'd like to write to my first baseball crush, Slammin' Sammy.
Thank you for getting me into baseball. It was your 20 homers in June 1998 that got me started. I didn't know what a historic hot streak it was, but it was awesome to watch. After every longball, there was the homer hop. Then the finger kiss chest pound thing. It was flamboyant and intoxicating. I was hooked almost instantly. But that was just the beginning.
Right around my birthday, you passed Maris:
Then came the thrilling tiebreaker game and playoff appearance. I was thrilled when you won MVP that year as well. My Cardinals fan uncle kept saying that McGwire was better, but you took home the award. It was a fitting end to one of the best summers of my childhood.
Baseball was not to be a simple phase for me. Home run races every year kept me glued. Every offseason, the question was, home many home runs would Sosa hit? Good thing too, since the Cubs teams weren't that great.
2003 featured my second favorite Sosa home run:
Thinking that the Cubs weren't going to do much in the playoffs once again, you brought them back with the most clutch home run of your career. I screamed so loud when that happened, my family thought I fell down the stairs or something.
My favorite Sosa moment was right after 9/11/2001. After the tragedy of that day, the country needed healing. You started off with a wonderful tribute by doing your customary run out to right field, but with a flag. Then later that game, you went deep, and celebrated in such a unique way.
You might have been Dominican by birth, but that day, you exemplified what it means to become a part of the amazing melting pot we call America. It was legendary. It was something I'll never forget.
I know that a good portion of the Cubs community might not forgive you for possibly maybe taking steroids like most other players were doing, or the corked bat that was one out of 73 bats that the MLB checked during the suspension, or leaving early in 2004. I do. I have a saying that "Moses was a murderer." The second most famous person in the Bible literally killed a guy. But that grievous mistake didn't define his legacy. We generally shouldn't define others by their biggest mistakes, but rather by their biggest achievements. Those issues might make you human, just like the rest of us. But they don't change the way you shaped my childhood, and how you got me hooked on Cubs baseball for life.
Thanks Sammy! You'll always be in my hall of fame.