Contact: Colleen Roche/Jennifer Chait (212) 788-2958
Sosa and Mark McGuire battled neck-and neck thoughout the 1998 major league baseball season in their quest to set the major league single season home run record. Sosa, who broke Roger Maris' existing record of 61 home runs, finished the year with 66 homers, four behind McGuire. In June, Sosa hit 20 home runs, setting a major league single-month record.
"On behalf of all New Yorkers, it is my great honor to present Sammy Sosa with the Key to the City and proclaim Saturday, October 17th Sammy Sosa Day in New York City," Mayor Giuliani said. "I think all New Yorkers respect Sammy Sosa, not only for his achievements on the baseball field, but also for the kind of man he is. He is a great representative of the very best in sports, in character, in ability and as a role model for young people. Today we honor not only his 66 home runs but also his work in creating the Sammy Sosa Foundation, an organization that raises funds for underprivileged children in Chicago and the Dominican Republic, and his demonstrated heroism in the face of difficulty or adversity and hardships to inspire others."
"New York City is home to the largest Dominican community outside the Dominican Republic and is proud to have one of its heroes come home," the Mayor concluded.
Today's Key to the City and proclamation ceremony capped a spectacular parade up the Canyon of Heroes honoring "Slamming" Sammy, with colorful floats, large balloons, and several marching bands. The route is famous for honoring legends such as General Douglas MacArthur, aviator Charles Lindbergh, astronaut John Glenn and the 1996 World Series Champion New York Yankees.
Sammy Sosa was born in 1968 in San Pedro De Macoris, Dominican Republic. Sosa made his first major league debut in 1989, playing for Texas. In addition to his accomplishments last season, Sosa also established career highs with a .308 average, 158 RBIs, 198 hits, 134 runs scored and 73 walks. His RBI total led the majors and was the 4th highest total in National League history. He wears number 21 in honor of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.
During spring training 1998, he received the Gene Autry Courage Award, an honor given to athletes who have demonstrated heroism in the face of difficulty, overcoming hardships to inspire other. Sosa, who supports schools and medical facilities in his homeland, was honored for his generosity to children and the poor.
While in the Dominican Republic after Hurricane Georges last month, the Mayor promised to rebuild the Regional Hospital George in Sammy Sosa's hometown, San Pedro de Macoris. To fulfill this promise, the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management coordinated a multi-agency team of architects, engineers, doctors, Police and Fire officers that will remain on the Island until the task is complete.