The rival superstars patrolled the batter's box in opposite manners while achieving the same awe-inspiring results.
Sammy Sosa was the lean, springy outfielder with an iconic sideways hop unleashed each time he sent a pitch over the outfield fence. Mark McGwire was the hulking first baseman who lumbered around the basepaths after swatting a ball 450 feet.
In 1998, Sosa and McGwire put on one of the best shows of hitting baseball fans had ever seen, going neck-to-neck for the all-time single-season home run record throughout the summer. McGwire reached 70 for the Cardinals, while Sosa got to 66 for the Cubs.
The ESPN documentary "Long Gone Summer" — part of the "30 for 30" film collection — looked back on the memorable season in its Sunday night premiere. It is now available for streaming on ESPN+.
Here's how to watch "Long Gone Summer" and additional context regarding the film:
Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire '30 for 30' documentary air date
Date: Sunday, June 14
Time: 9 p.m. ET
The documentary about Sosa and McGwire is titled "Long Gone Summer." It ran for two hours on ESPN beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Before airing the "30 for 30" MLB premiere, ESPN ran a Home Run Derby marathon throughout the day.
How to stream 'Long Gone Summer' after TV airing
If you're a subscriber to ESPN+, it is immediately available on that platform. It will also likely be on ESPN again in the coming weeks. Netflix usually gets "30 for 30" episodes eventually as well.
ESPN's '30 for 30' schedule
"Long Gone Summer" is the final installment of more than a month filled by ESPN documentary releases each Sunday night, a run that also included "The Last Dance," "LANCE" and "Be Water."
Future "30 for 30" episodes dates have not yet been announced.
What does the 'Long Gone Summer' documentary cover?
The "30 for 30" film special is a heavy dose of baseball nostalgia based on the 1998 single-season home run chase between Sammy Sosa of the Cubs and Mark McGwire of the Cardinals. ESPN gets both Sosa and McGwire on camera for the piece and filters between highlights and news clippings from the campaign and current day retrospection.
It's a look at two of the most captivating figures of an era that will never be replicated in its dirty absurdity. In a 2020 summer without baseball, it was an entertaining piece, even if it may have dragged on a tad and did not delve into steroid accusations as much as it probably should have.
When was the steroid era in baseball?
The steroid era began as a whisper in the late 1980s during the rise of Jose Canseco in Oakland and escalated through the 90s and into the 2000s, when it became a full-blown scandal for the game that prompted congressional testimony from players.
By 1995, baseball executives were openly commenting on the prevalence of PEDs. In 1998, Mark McGwire was discovered to be using androstenedione, a drug purported to help increase testosterone levels.
Around this time, home run totals were exploding around MLB. From 1998-2001, players hit at least 50 home runs in a season on 11 occasions. Since 2001, the feat has happened just 12 times total. Among the best players of the juicing era who tested positive for or admitted using steroids are Canseco, McGwire, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield. Others, such as Sosa and Roger Clemens, have been implicated.
PED use is an ongoing problem for baseball — active players busted for cheating include Starling Marte, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. It's no longer a primary story for the game, however, with a lower percentage of top sluggers suspected of using banned substances to their advantage compared to the late-90s and early-2000s.
How many home runs did Mark McGwire hit?
McGwire set what at the time was the MLB record for single-season home runs with 70 in 1998.
He hit at least 30 home runs in a season in three different decades and finished with 583 career long balls.
How many home runs did Sammy Sosa hit?
Sosa hit a career-high 66 home runs in 1998, one of three times in his career he eclipsed the 60-home run milestone.
He finished his career with 609 long balls, ranking ninth on MLB's all-time leaderboard. Most of those HRs came with the Cubs, though he surpassed 600 while a member of the Rangers.
MLB home run record (single season)
The current record for most home runs in a season is 73. Barry Bonds achieved that mark in 2001 in perhaps the greatest individual season in baseball history.
MLB home run leaders all time
The home run mantle has passed between Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds over the past century, with Bonds taking sole possession of first place on the leaderboard in 2007.
Career Home Runs
Ken Griffey Jr.