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22 years later, there are still hard feelings about Sammy Sosa's 62nd home run ball

Mike Oz
·3-min read

This weekend, baseball fans will get to relive the great 1998 home run chase, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa matched each other dinger for dinger while trying to topple Roger Maris’ famous single-season home run record. ESPN is turning its documentary lens on McGwire and Sosa for “Long Gone Summer,” a 30-for-30 that promises candid conversations with Sosa and McGwire, both of whom remain pretty quiet to this day about the summer of 1998.

As baseball gets its “Last Dance” moment, it turns out there are two guys from the Sosa story that have been holding onto a beef almost as long as Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.

Over at Midway Minute, we learn that famed Wrigley Field ballhawk Moe Mullins still isn’t feeling friendly about Brendan Cunningham, the man who ended up with Sammy Sosa’s 62nd home run ball, even all these years later.

Former Yahoo Sports scribe Kevin Kaduk tracked down both Mullins and Cunningham, who were in the headlines back in ’98 for their fight over the ball. The entire story is worth your time. At the time, the quest for Sosa’s history-making ball was described like, “someone threw a million dollars on the ground.” Turns out it was 22 years of beef.

This passage — which will make you chuckle — about sums it up:

With ESPN set to air “Long Gone Summer” this Sunday night, I looked up both sides to see what they thought of the incident more than two decades later.

The results, uh, varied.

“I don’t have anything against Moe Mullins and I don’t think he has anything against me, either,” Cunningham told me when he called me back last Friday.

A few days later, I got a number for Mullins and told the famed Wrigley Field ballhawk I’d already interviewed Cunningham.

“That’s one name I don’t like to hear,” Mullins said when I told him I’d talked with Cunningham. “He and a bunch of others mugged on me. He’s a thief and he knows it.”

You know that guy who’s still mad at you over something you did in high school? Yeah, this is that.

Only in the case of Mullins and Cunningham, there was much more to it. As Midway Minute breaks down, Mullins claims he had possession of the ball in a dogpile after Sosa hit it and Cunningham pried it away.

Sammy Sosa celebrates his 62nd home run in 1998. (JOHN ZICH/AFP via Getty Images)
Sammy Sosa celebrates his 62nd home run in 1998. (JOHN ZICH/AFP via Getty Images)

Afterward, there was a lawsuit and a lot of media coverage. They got an offer to be on “Judge Judy” and let her decide. Cunningham locked the ball away in a safety deposit box on judges’ orders. The judge also said Cunningman and Mullins should come to some agreement on their own.

That never happened because, as Mullins told Midway Minute, he wouldn’t do it out of principle. Eventually, Cunningham decided to give the ball back to Sosa as a way to squash the whole controversy.

You’d think that was the end of that — and maybe it would be if not for ESPN making us revisit the summer of 1998 again.

Nothing like 20-year-old sports grudges, huh?

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