ESPN’s “Long Gone Summer” aired Sunday night, detailing MLB’s 1998 Home Run Chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. The two superstars smashed Roger Maris’ single-season record, revitalizing baseball four years after the 1994 strike had kept so many fans away from the sport.
McGwire set a new mark by hitting an unthinkable 70 home runs with the St. Louis Cardinals. Sosa hit 66 home runs, and he beat out McGwire for the 1998 NL MVP award by leading the league with 158 RBI and taking the Chicago Cubs to the playoffs.
While McGwire and Sosa were the season’s top sluggers, they weren’t MLB’s highest-paid players. Gary Sheffield and Albert Belle both led the league with $10 million salaries. Greg Maddux was the highest-paid pitcher in baseball with a $9.6 million salary.
McGwire ranked fifth in MLB with an $8.333 million salary in 1998, putting him right behind Barry Bonds. Sosa made $8 million that year, tying him with Mike Piazza and Andres Galarraga for ninth in the sport.
The Cardinals acquired McGwire from the Oakland Athletics at the 1997 trade deadline. A free-agent-to-be, McGwire signed an extension to remain in St. Louis before the season ended. The contract was worth $28.5 million over three years and included an $11 million option for the 2001 season.
That would be the last contract McGwire ever signed as an MLB player. He reportedly agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension in 2001 spring training, but the deal was never made official and McGwire retired following that season.
After hitting 135 home runs from 1998-1999, McGwire missed nearly half of the games in his final two seasons with injuries. His batting average dropped to .187 in his last year.
McGwire earned $74,688,354 in his major-league career. The first baseman made just $72,500 in 1987 when he set a then-rookie record with 49 home runs. Following two straight trips to the World Series with Oakland, McGwire finally made over $1 million in the 1990 season when the A’s won their second title in three years.
From 2010-2018, McGwire spent time as a coach for the Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. According to Celebrity Net Worth, McGwire is worth an estimated $60 million.
Sosa hasn’t been part of MLB since 2007 when he spent his final season as a player with the Texas Rangers. He made $500,000 that year, putting his career earnings at $124,068,000.
According to baseball-reference, Sosa ranks 94th on MLB’s all-time career earnings list. He’s just ahead of Lance Berkman and right behind Bobby Abreu.
Sosa signed a four-year, $42.5 million contract with Chicago during the 1997 season, a year before he became a household name. After averaging 60 home runs and 149 RBI per season from 1998-2001, Sosa inked a four-year, $72 million deal.
Sosa led the NL with 49 homers in 2002, but his production declined over the next few years. He played the final year of his contract with the Baltimore Orioles, hitting .221 with 14 home runs in 102 games in 2005.
Celebrity Net Worth estimates Sosa’s net worth to be $70 million.