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30 for 30’s Long Gone Summer Relives The 1998 Home Run Race

1998 was pure magic for baseball. Sammy Sosa virtually came out of no where if you think about it. Mark McGwire had an opponent and the rest, is history.

When the trailer for this documentary came out, I was so incredibly excited because 1998 was the first year I vividly remembered sports. The Bulls won the NBA Finals. I was turning 10. Baseball was reeling in fans because of these daily home runs that you just had to watch. For me, culturally, this documentary meant a lot because of my Dominican heritage. The flag was only on display once during the documentary and that’s something that should’ve been a lot more dominant considering both were on each other’s heels for the record.

One thing that should’ve been discussed more in Long Gone Summer is how this was bringing in fans across the nation and back in the Dominican Republic, and not just center it in St. Louis or Chicago. I remember that summer in NYC. Fans started to write the records on the windshields of their car. People would drag out TV’s and watch it outside of bodegas. In the middle of this all, the Yankees were dominating and would go on to win the World Series that year. How ironic?

In the back of everyone’s mind was one thing – how are they going to jump into the steroid topic and genuinely talk about it? Well, the disappointing part of this is that, they waited until the very last 13 minutes of it to chime in on it basically. Granted, it’s not the topic of the documentary but it’s still a part of it. In addition, Sosa’s drama with the corked bat situation wasn’t even talked about. Dear Cubs – it’s time to bring Sosa back home.

I remember there being so much competition but, I didn’t recall the sportsmanship – probably because I was too focused on the winning it all aspect. To see the sportsmanship highlighted heavy was great to see. Something that was also great to see, was the sweetest swing in baseball, Ken Griffey, as he was mentioned because he also finished the season great and would go on to win a gold glove that year too with 56 home runs. Imagine it was Griffey vs. McGwire?

The summer of ’98 was something baseball hadn’t seen. Cardinal fans were showing up for home runs. But, Sammy Sosa was thinking playoffs.

Speaking of Sammy’s thoughts, I would love to learn what happened to his skin and not hear him blame it on an air conditioner. As a matter of fact, more Sammy in this documentary is what was missing because it was really centered on McGwire (probably because he won it all but still!).

The one feeling you’ll have is nostalgia because it’s hard to say if we’ll ever have this again in baseball, especially since the sport isn’t as favored by many.

A moment that was so sad to me was with Roger Maris and how he wished he didn’t break the record. The way certain media behaves can truly break a person down. This is the reporter that we don’t aspire to be. We want to uplift the athletes. You could see the anguish in his eyes.

As Mark McGwire said, I also wish that the one that broke the record was a moonshot but, physics is something we can’t control, yet.

The title stood out to me, as we’re about a week away from the summer solstice, and no word yet on what will happen with baseball this year. There’s only so much energy for watching old highlights and throwback games.

Give Long Gone Summer a chance and let us know what you think.

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