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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 23, 1998)
HOME RUNS AND THE PEOPI}
He has had an experienced dignity
on his face and in his quick pace while
circling the diamond after hitting home
runs number 61,62 and 63.
He is showing us humble street
savvy by proclaiming to hungry
reporters again and again that "Mark is
the man" in his Hispanic accent.
Sammy Sosa knows the ways of the
He know s a person of color who
speaks English as a second language
can only truly join a Mark McGw ire in
the hearts of baseball fans (a culture
dominated by white people) through a
si\ back door called humility.
While watching him chase a his
toric record (not to mention a playoff'
spot) all summer lone. 1 believe my
generation is getting a little taste of the
late Roberto Clemente.
Clemente, a fierce Pittsburgh Pirate
during baseball's golden age, came to
the United States from Puerto Rico. His
all-out plav and strong, family-man
demeanor exemplified the greatness so
manv immigrants have contributed to
our culture this century.
Successful people from not-so-ter
riblv successful nations tend to place
greater value on the opportunities that
can be afforded to an indiv idual in this
It is doubtful Sosa as a young bov in
the Dominican Republic ever griped
ov er whether he'd get an Atari or an
Intelevision v ideo game system for
In fact. I fail to believe the word
"pong" sends a nostalgic sensation
down too manv Latin American spines.
But money changes ev erything.
Since their respective indepen
dence. the financial misfortunes of
Central American nations have placed
manv of its people in a seemingly eter
nal Generation X.
Comparing the stories of Sosa and
McGwire is like comparing early 20th
centurv Mississippi blues to the sterile
version of the style usually heard on
open mic night dow n at the Zoo Bar.
Okav let's give Big Mac credit not
onlv for his inspirational season at the
plate, but also for some of the other
things he's shown us this summer.
McGwire has done a swell job of
reiterating the fact he's a big home run
hitter who. believe it or not. has feelmgs
for his son. 1 guess he must have been
quae me corn nsn duck in uaiaana.
Such a cross he has had to bear.
Every decent man since Adam has
loved his children.
And then we have the cool chest
slams he does with Kevin Jordan and
Ron Gant after every homer. Awesome.
Is McGwire a pillar of the tired men s
movement or what?
Such hints of narcissism are traits of
a person from a wealthy, television-dri
While the media has focused the
hype on Big Mac Americana. Sosa has
been hav ing fun going to work every
We've watched with admiration as
he's encouraged McGwire to enjoy a lit
tle playful humor at press conferences.
His eyes have stayed firmly on the
real prize of carrying the Chicago Cubs
to a shot at something known as the
He has charmed us a bit after every
bazooka he's sent near or to Waveland
Avenue w ith his hand-dance tribute to
his mother, his Dominican Republic
and to the late Harry' Caray.
He. much deeper than McGwire
ever could has reminded us that we still
might be living in a pretty darn good
Sammy s got soul
Christopher Heine is a senior
news-editorial major and a Daily
Nebraskan staff w riter.
McGwire makes weekend special one
By Andrew Strnad
MILWAUKEE - Three months ago
when I bought these tickets, I thought I
knew what I was going to see. Was I ever
A set of 12 tickets to see the St. Louis
Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers in
a meaningless series at the end of the
Of course I knew Mark McGwire
was going to be there, but I thought he
would be closmg in on 61 home runs, not
64 or 65.
What really stood out in my mind this
weekend in Milwaukee was the atmos
phere. The stature of Mark McGwire and
his mere presence at County Stadium
sent chills through the 155,000 people
who attended the three-game set.
Like other fans, I've watched
McGwire for the past 12 years and have
seen him play for the Oakland A's 25 or
I've seen the power; heck, I even
caught a ball he hit during batting prac
tice back in 1987, albeit there were only
30 or so people in the bleachers.
Nonetheless, I knew what he could do,
but what I didn't know is what he could
do to a crowd.
Friday - My friends and I had good
seats - lower grandstand with a view
right down the left field line.
Fortunately for us, having known the
back roads of Milwaukee, we arrived on
time; but at least 5,000 of the 48,000 in
attendance were stuck in traffic.
Amid a rousing ovation. Big Mac
came up in the first inning to face a hard
throwing lefty in Rafael Roque, and I fig
ured tonight would be our lucky night.
Immediately Roque ran out to a 3-0
count, and the chorus of boos started
commg from the stands. The flashbulbs
were constant, and the anticipation was
heavy. McGwire has yet to hit a homer on
3-0, and I didn't think this would be the
first. It wasn't. Big Mac added to his
National League record walk total.
When McGwire came up in the
fourth. 1 knew it was homer time. With
the Brewers in the lead, 1 knew Roque
would get cocky.
McGwire, as he always seems to do,
hit a rope over the 392-marker in left
center, a sign that would come back to
haunt McGwire on Sunday.
The applause for the 6-foot-5 red
head was intense and concluded with an
unprecedented curtain call. It was the
loudest 1 've ever heard a County Stadium
crowd cheer for a visiting opponent since
Nolan Ryan won his 300th game in 1990.
I think 1 can say with confidence
there wasn't a single person who didn’t
want to see McGwire go the distance.
That was just the beginning, as he
would later hit the longest ball 1 had ever
In the eighth, facing Eric Plunk,
McGwire turned on a 3-0 ball and sent it
over the upper-deck facade in left field
and into the parking lot. No foul ball has
ever created such a buzz.
Saturday - It was Fan Appreciation
Night at County Stadium, a night where
the Brewers give away all sorts of things,
like signed jerseys, McGwire bats, Robin
Yount bats and even a car. That was fun.
but not the reason why 54.000-plus
Walking from the parking lot to the
stadium, I couldn't believe the lack of
Milwaukee is big on brats and beer,
but there were few tailgaters in the park
ing lot before the game.Why? Everyone
was already inside watching the show -
McGwire's batting practice.
Boy, was it ever a show. Of the 17
swings McGwire took, nine of them
were home runs. Five of them were out
right bombs. Home runs are downplayed
in batting practice, because nobody
wants to be known as a five o'clock hit
ter. McGwire is an anytime hitter.
During the game, we were in the
upper box, third row, with a great view
from the third base line.
For McGwire it was his worst day of
the year at the plate. Four strikeouts. That
didn't take away from the largest crowd
at County Stadium since Robin Yount
Book Day in 1992.
The crowd's reaction reminded me of
watching Reggie Jackson strike out - the
way he would screw himself into the
Sundav-This was the day we were
waiting for; bleacher seats on a day when
the wind was actually blowing out of the
park. Not like McGwire needed the help.
This time it looked like all 52,831
fans were in their seats by the time
McGwire came to the plate. It's a good
thing they did, because he wasted no time
hitting a fastball deep to left field.
Unfortunately, it was too far left for us to
make a dive for it. Oh well, it was No. 65.
Fans grew restless. The guy behind
me brought a pocket television so he
could watch the Packers while watching
He would soon put it away as
McGwire would look for his Major
League record 66th home run.
McGwire made solid contact in the
fifth and sent a ball in our direction.
Again, it was heading over the 392-sign,
just rows in front of us, but umpire Bob
Davidson ruled a fan had interfered and
awarded McGwire a double.
1 couldn’t see it. there was complete
pandemonium, which resulted in the
crowd booing an umpire for taking a
home run away from the visiting team.
What a weekend.
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