Baseball; McGwire and Sosa set to make history
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Monday 07 September 1998
On Saturday night, against the Cincinnati Reds, McGwire clubbed his 60th home run of the season, to equal Babe Ruth's feat in 1927 and bring him within one of tying Roger Maris' record of 61, which has survived for 37 years. Sosa, meanwhile, smashed his third homer in four games, to lift his season's total to 58, a feat achieved by only five others in baseball history.
Conceivably the record could have already gone, in yesterday's third face-off between the Cardinals and the Reds. But there would be no more fitting moment than tonight or tomorrow, when the two hitters, whose contest has made baseball the national pastime once more, slug it out face-to- face in Busch Stadium St Louis.
"It's unbelievable, what can you say ?" said a relaxed McGwire after smiting No. 60. "Without a doubt, the fans are coming back. What's happening with myself and Sosa has brought baseball back, and it's brought America together."
Their exploits are all the more remarkable in that both play in the National League, where the pitchers are regarded as better, and the stadia are larger, than in the rival American League, where both Maris and Ruth played for the New York Yankees.
The two Cardinal/Cubs games have long been sold out, and tickets are exchanging for a fortune on the black market. But the really big memorabilia money is yet to be made. A businessman enthusiast has reportedly offered $1m (pounds 602,000) for the ball which goes for the 62nd homer - guaranteeing an instant fortune for the fan sitting in the right seat at the right moment.
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