While the Chicago Cubs chase their first MLB championship in 108 years, one of the franchise’s all-time greats, Sammy Sosa, remains a conspicuous outsider.
Moments like this in a team’s history usually make for the perfect opportunity to highlight its former stars just as much as the men currently working towards the ultimate glorious achievement. That hasn’t happened this October for Sosa, whose strained relationship with the Chicago franchise remains a black mark more than a decade after his less-than-ideal departure in 2004.
Speaking with Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, Sosa, currently in Paris, said it’s been about three years since he’s even spoken with anyone connected to the Cubs.
“The Cubs have not retired his No. 21 jersey. They have not invited him to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, or sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ or work with their young hitters. Sosa said about three years have passed since he had any kind of contact with anyone in the organization.”
If an offer to participate was extended, Sosa says he’d love to reunite with the franchise. But that doesn’t seem likely at this point.
Sosa famously left Chicago on very bad terms, ditching the team 15 minutes after the final game of the 2004 season had begun having never bothered to put on his uniform. He was fined $87,400 — one day’s salary — for the incident, despite the fact he wasn’t slated to play that day anyway, being injured.
“It’s certainly inexcusable for him not to be at the ballpark and not dressed with his teammates,” general manager Jim Hendry said at the time.
That was the last time he stepped foot in Chicago’s clubhouse. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles not long after.
While it’s possible the Cubs have avoided bringing Sosa back because of his alleged steroid use, it’s more likely the club simply never mended fences with the star outfielder.
That’s a shame. Sosa spent 13 seasons with the Cubbies, hitting 545 of his 609 career home runs while driving in 1,414 runs. One of baseball’s all-time great power hitters, he was the face of the franchise for many years.