McGwire Hits 61st Homer, Ties Sosa
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Mark McGwire moved into a tie with Sammy Sosa for the major league home run lead today, hitting his 61st off Cincinnati’s Ron Villone in his second at-bat.
The drive landed in the upper deck in left field, only the 29th ball to reach that level in stadium history.
He got polite applause and a few boos from the fans after the homer.
For Mark McGwire, reaching 60 was much tougher the second time.
McGwire became the second player to hit 60 twice when he homered in the eighth inning Sunday. His solo shot off Cincinnati’s Scott Sullivan added his name to a couple more categories in the record book.
On Sunday, McGwire became the third player to hit 400 homers in a decade, with his 60th. Babe Ruth had 467 in the 1920s and Jimmie Foxx had 415 in the 1930s.
He also joined Sosa as the only players in the 60-60 club. Sosa beat McGwire to this record by hitting his 60th eight days earlier.
After the Reds rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 in 12 innings Sunday, McGwire was appreciative and worn down at the same time.
``It’s been a nice year,″ he said. ``Then again, it’s been probably one of the most difficult years I’ve ever had.″
McGwire rode an emotional wave last year when he hit No. 60 off Cincinnati’s Denny Reyes and kept going, stopping at a record 70. Sosa reached the 60-homer mark after McGwire and finished at 66.
From his first day of spring training, McGwire has been asked about the chances of hitting 60 or 70 again. He said Sunday that the attention combined with the Cardinals’ losing season made it tough.
No. 60 came in one of the Cardinals’ most devastating losses. McGwire’s homer started a comeback that sent the game to extra innings and the Cardinals went ahead in the 12th, only to lose it on Pokey Reese’s three-run homer.
As he left the field, McGwire lingered for a few moments and watched the Reds celebrate on the field. He wished the Cardinals could be doing the same.
``I’d much rather be in that clubhouse,″ he said.
He’ll have to settle for the record book, something that’s not nearly as appealing right now.
``I think all this stuff will hit me when I’m retired,″ McGwire said, sipping from a bottle of water in the crestfallen Cardinals clubhouse. ``Obviously it’s very meaningful to me. When I’m retired I can sit back and think of all I’ve accomplished.″
He didn’t think that another 60-homer season would be on the list. Like Sosa, he thought there was no chance for another neck-and-neck race past the 60-homer mark.
``I never thought I’d get there again,″ McGwire said. ``To have two people do it in two consecutive years is pretty amazing.
``A lot of people didn’t think we could do it again _ myself included.″
After McGwire’s 60th homer, two people who were not at the game phoned and bought game tickets as memorabilia. Joe Davis of Snellville, Ga., purchased 1,050 and Edmund Urquiza of Burbank, Calif., bought 500. The cheapest seat in the stadium is $4.
The ball landed behind the left-field wall, so the Reds were able to retrieve it and give it to McGwire.
It was noteworthy that he got No. 60 in Cincinnati, the place where he’s been more of a punch-and-Judy hitter than a home run king. He finally got his first career homer at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field last July 22, connecting off reliever Danny Graves in the ninth inning.