Baseball fans got to relive the 1998 home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in ESPN’s “Long Gone Summer” 30 for 30 documentary Sunday, but it wasn’t a pleasant trip down memory for one of Sosa’s former teammates.
Speaking on WFAN, former Cubs pitcher Turk Wendell absolutely unloaded on what being teammates with Sosa in Chicago from 1993 to 1997 was truly like.
“One of the worst teammates ever,” Wendell, 53, said. “He only cared about himself, hitting home runs. He didn’t care if we lost 20-1, if he hit a home run, he was happy.”
Sosa was already in the majors for four years and playing on his third team when Wendell began his MLB career on the Cubs in 1993. Wendell evidently got to know Sosa well, even sharing a story about visiting a shooting range in Arizona with the notorious slugger, who ignored all safety protocols and did what he wanted.
“That was just Sosa being Sosa, I guess,” Wendell said. “One-on-one, off the field, he was a good dude. And we went to a shooting range a couple of times. But Sammy was kind of just all about Sammy.
“…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 that to the next level.”
After Wendell was traded to the Mets at the end of the 1997 season, Sosa continued to disrupt the Cubs locker room.
“It got so bad after I had left that he was in the clubhouse playing music and stuff after I guess they lost and I think it was Kerry Wood, just beat the absolute snot out of his stereo system,” Wendell recalled.
Wendell went on to take shots at Sosa’s career, which has been muddled by rumors of steroid use, and how the six-time Silver Slugger dropped off after the league began testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
“It’s sad because he was talented,” Wendell said. “We did see his true athletic ability after they started testing for steroids, he went from 60 home runs to I think 12 or 14 with Baltimore and then he was out of the game.”
However, Wendell admitted that he never saw Sosa take any PEDs first-hand.
“What am I going to do? Am I going to say something like, ‘Oh yeah, we won today because Sammy hit three home runs and he’s in the middle of a cycle,’” he said. “You can’t do that. You can’t throw your teammates out under the bus like that and I probably shouldn’t be talking about it right now. Facts are facts.”