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HOME RUNS DOING WONDERS: MLB POPULARITY AT ALL-TIME HIGH
Published September 17, 1998
Baseball's popularity "is soaring" as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa set HR records, according to a CNN/USA TODAY/ Gallup Poll, as reported by Mel Antonen of USA TODAY. The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, shows that 63% of the 1,082 surveyed said they are "a fan or somewhat of a fan" of pro baseball -- an increase of 19% since a similar poll taken in June. McGwire: "The best part about the home run chase is that it is bringing fans back to the ballpark. It's good for baseball." The 63% is the highest since the poll began tracking MLB's popularity in February '93. The previous high, 55%, was in August '94, before the strike. The low was 41% in April '95, when replacement players were playing in exhibition games (Mel Antonen, USA TODAY, 9/17). ALL TIED UP: Sosa hit his 63rd HR last night, tying him with McGwire. Sosa's Cubs played the Padres in front of 49,981 at Qualcomm Stadium, while McGwire's Cardinals played the Pirates in front of 39,758 at Busch Stadium (THE DAILY). HR RACE? In N.Y., Murray Chass writes on the suggestion that MLB "slighted" Sosa "in its treatment of him" during the HR chase, and that Sosa's race "is the reason." Tom Reich, who, along with partner Adam Katz, reps Sosa: "Sammy doesn't perceive it that way and neither do we. The attention that has been given to Sammy has been tremendous." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that he "had received some calls from fans who said they thought Sosa had been slighted." Selig: "I explained it to them and they were satisfied." Selig said that both McGwire and Sosa will be honored during the World Series, no matter who ends up with the HR record (Murray Chass, N.Y. TIMES, 9/17). ALL FOR A BALL? John Grass, the 46-year-old who caught McGwire's No. 63, presented the Cardinals with "a list of more than 30 items he wanted in exchange for the ball," including a trip to spring training, a chance for him and his son to throw out first pitches at Cards games, and items autographed by McGwire and Stan Musial. The list was forwarded to Cards Principal Owner Bill DeWitt, but GM Walt Jocketty said that the ball "is not worth that." Jocketty: "Unless it's the last one that Mark hits, I don't think it's worth that much" (Ric Bucher, WASHINGTON POST, 9/17). STATION ID: In Chicago, Jim Kirk writes to look for Cubs TV carriers, including WGN, "to carry more identifying logos ... in the corner of the screen" for every Sosa AB. Enough sports outlets "have been poaching live footage of Sosa's at-bats that Cubs' executives have suggested that outlets identify the footage" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/17).