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Volume 24 No. 156
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          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).