Sammy Sosa was a fan favorite back in the summer of 1998 when he and Mark McGwire were in a race to become the new Major League Baseball home run king.
But not everybody loved Sosa.
Former MLB relief pitcher Turk Wendell, who was on the Cubs with Sosa from 1993-97, referred to Slammin’ Sammy as “the worst teammate ever” while appearing on WFAN’s “Joe and Evan” Friday evening.
“He only cared about himself hitting home runs,” Wendell said. “He didn’t care if we lost 20-1. If he hit a home run, he was happy.”
Host Evan Roberts asked Wendell if a lot of players were like that, or if that was unusual.
“That was Sosa being Sosa, I guess,” Wendell said. “One-on-one off the field, he’s a good dude. We went to a shooting range a couple times but Sammy is just kinda all about Sammy. … We got to a shooting range in Arizona and they tell you no automatic ‘bang bang bang bang’ tupe shooting and next thing you know Sammy is just doing whatever he wants.
“I think sometimes some players get so used to people bowing down to them, giving [them] everything they want, they just think they can do whatever they want. He took it to the next level.”
The Cubs traded Wendell to the Mets during the 1997 season, so the reliever was not in Chicago when Sosa’s chase to break Roger Maris’ single season home run record began, but Wendell claims Sosa’s attitude only got worse.
“It got so bad after I left that he was in the clubhouse playing music and stuff after they lost, and I think it was Kerry Wood [who] just beat the absolute snot out of the stereo system, which was Sammy’s,” Wendell added.
Sosa’s reputation began to dissipate toward the end of his career after corking his bat and speculation that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs.
While Sosa has never admitted to doing so, the suspicion has been heavy enough to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
Wendell did not definitively say Sosa took PEDs, but he did point to the significant drop in production once testing began.
“It’s sad, because he was talented; we did see his true athletic ability after they started testing for steroids,” Wendell said. “He went form hitting 60 home runs to 12 or 14 with Baltimore and next thing you know he’s out of the game.”