Few seasons in recent memory captured the attention of baseball fans in America like 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa embarked on a chase for the single-season home run record of 61 that was set by Roger Maris 37 years prior.
ESPN's new 30 for 30 film "Long Gone Summer," which airs Sunday, June 14, at 9 p.m. ET, looks back at the twists and turns of the 1998 season -- its exhilarating highlights, massive impact and lasting complications -- including in-depth interviews with McGwire and Sosa talking at length for the first time in more than two decades.
Entering the season, the sport was still stinging from the labor battles that had cut the 1994 campaign short and forced the cancellation of the World Series. But when McGwire, who had hit 58 home runs in 1997, got off to a torrid start in '98, and was joined on the home run leaderboard that June by the red-hot Sosa, the country became enthralled, desperate for updates. The race for 61 was on.
Both players would shatter the mark, with McGwire reaching 70 homers on the last weekend of the season. But when the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout the game came to light in the years that followed, the thrill was gone. Or was it? The PEDs might have cheapened the accomplishment, but the excitement at the time of the chase was real and undeniable.
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