HOME RUNS DOING WONDERS: MLB POPULARITY AT ALL-TIME HIGH
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).