MAN: More than anything else, what adheres me to baseball and always has is this sense that I am essentially watching the same game that somebody saw in 1860.
The history of it.
It is the only sport that goes forwards and backwards.
Other sports have some interest in their own history and will occasionally make reference to it.
But baseball, it's there.
You come in at the start of the game or the start of the season or the start of your own fandom, you feel as if you are joining the river midstream.
And all that has gone before, you can enjoy as much as if you were there.
It's as simple as that.
ANNOUNCER: That's it!
Number 7 is in the books.
The remarkable Ryan has done it again.
ANNOUNCER: Now the 2-2.
Well hit down the left field line.
Way back and gone!
Joe Carter with a 3-run homer.
The winners and still world champions, the Toronto Blue Jays.
[Indistinct speech] [Indistinct chatter] ♪ Oh say, can you see ♪ ♪ By the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight's last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O'er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ Were so gallantly streaming ♪ ♪ And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
♪ ♪ O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
♪ NARRATOR: As the tumultuous 20th Century drew to a close, and a new millennium began, the game of baseball, now more than 150 years old, remained remarkably unchanged.
3 strikes still made an out.
6 outs an inning.
The distance from home plate to first base was still a perfect 90 feet.
Ballplayers, managers, and even fans continued to cling to their cherished superstitions, hoping against hope to intervene in outcomes actually determined by talent and preparation, accident and error.
Superstars continued to retire as heroes in the full glare of the spotlight, while lesser players continued to quietly disappear, their statistics the only residue of their existence in the game.
But baseball was changing.
New franchises would spring up in new cities.
Interleague play would be instituted during the regular season, as the lines between the American and National Leagues began to blur.
One team would even change leagues, something that had never happened before.
And baseball would expand the playoffs, allowing "wild card" teams into the postseason.
It would now be possible for a second place team to win the world championship.
Salary levels, attendance, and home run totals would all be shattered, while new stadiums and new television networks brought in new fans.
Latin and Asian players would transform the game, just as new waves of immigrants continued to enrich the country that had created it.
A trio of remarkable pitchers would lead the Atlanta Braves to 14 consecutive division titles, while a hard-luck, old-school manager would guide the New York Yankees, who had made the playoffs only once since 1981, to the World Series 6 times in 8 years.
Baseball had never seemed so healthy, but in a time of unimaginable wealth and unbridled speculation throughout the country, the age-old battle between the owners and the players would bring the national pastime to its knees.
The game would have to go through its own Dark Ages before it would emerge stronger than ever before.
And behind the scenes-- in secret-- players on every team found themselves making life-altering decisions about how far they were willing to go to succeed.
Meanwhile, an unstoppable assembly of free-spirits, playing for one of the sport's oldest teams, would do the impossible, erasing decades of despair for their followers.
ANNOUNCER: Red Sox are 3 outs away from being swept.
NARRATOR: Through it all, baseball, still the best game that's ever been invented, managed to create some of the most vivid memories, and provide some of the most dramatic moments anyone had ever seen.
ANNOUNCER: Roberts going.
Roberts is safe.
[Crowd cheering] MAN: The idea that you can walk into a ballpark, whether it's Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium or wherever, and sit down and watch a game played by boys who have become men.
So you can imagine yourself still playing this game no matter what age you are.
And when you sit there, the door to your past life, which occurred 15 minutes ago at the office, on the bus, in your home, that door closes and you get lost in the technical details, the intricate details of baseball as it's played out.
There's always a surprise in baseball.
God, I never thought he'd be able to get to that ball.
That's part of baseball's magic.
NARRATOR: On October 14, 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates were in Atlanta facing the Braves in the seventh and deciding game of the National League Championship Series.
With 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth, Pittsburgh led 2-1.
But Atlanta had the bases loaded.
A pinch hitter, Francisco Cabrera, who had had only 10 at-bats all season, was at the plate.
ANNOUNCER: And now the Braves season hangs in the balance.
He hacked at the 2-0, now the 2-1.
Line drive and a base hit!
Justice has scored the tying run.
NARRATOR: With the tying run in, most assumed that the runner on second, Sid Bream, hobbled by 5 knee operations, would be held at third.
But the third base coach sent Bream anyway.
ANNOUNCER: Bream to the plate.
And he is safe!
Safe at the plate!
The Braves go to the World Series!
[Crowd cheering] NARRATOR: For the next decade and a half, Atlanta would dominate the National League, returning again and again to the postseason.
The once-promising Pirates would go in the opposite direction, often finishing at the bottom of the standings.
And their supremely talented left fielder, who had almost thrown Bream out, would never again play for Pittsburgh.
During the off-season, he would sign the most expensive free-agent contract the game had yet seen.
He would go on to become one of the greatest-- and most controversial--players in the history of baseball.
MAN: He is a very complicated character.
He is brilliant.
He is blessed and yet he gave the impression that his life was a burden, that the gifts that he had somehow just wore him down and that he couldn't stand for people to be in his space.
I've come to believe that we should never get to know anybody too well.
And I think that we got to know him too well.
NARRATOR: Back in the spring of 1986, a slender young outfielder named Barry Lamar Bonds had been called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
His promise as a baseball player was undeniable.
He was the son of Bobby Bonds, who had signed his first professional contract 11 days after Barry was born in July of 1964.
Bobby was sent to North Carolina to play in the minors, 2,500 miles away from his wife and infant son back in Riverside, California.
In the south, Bobby came face to face with the vestiges of Jim Crow.
Fans called him unspeakable names--darkie, coon, nigger.
He was lonely and humiliated.
But on the field, Bobby Bonds hit lots of home runs and stole lots of bases, and before long he was promoted to the San Francisco Giants.
JAMES BROWN: ♪ I got it, hey!
♪ ♪ I got something that makes me wanna shout ♪ ♪ I got something that tells me what it's all about ♪ ♪ Huh, I got soul... ♪ NARRATOR: He played in the outfield, alongside the great Willie Mays, to whom Bobby was often compared.
Mays took Bobby under his wing and agreed to be young Barry's godfather.
When he was just 2 years old, Barry hit a Wiffle ball so hard he shattered a living room window, and at 5 began accompanying his father to Candlestick Park.
He followed his godfather everywhere, seeing that Mays, after years of celebrity, seemed tired of the demands of stardom.
Barry heard Mays advise his father not to trust anyone, to look out only for Number One.
As Barry began to develop his own skills on Bay Area Little League diamonds, his father became a star, twice stealing 30 bases and hitting 30 home runs, and winning 3 Gold Glove Awards.
But after games, he often downed a few beers in the clubhouse, and then moved to a nearby bar for more.
His drinking, and the controversies that sometimes accompanied it, frustrated the Giants organization, and after the 1974 season, they traded him to the Yankees.
Bobby Bonds would hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases 3 more times, but he was unable to outrun his own demons and was traded from club to club, 7 in 7 years.
Embittered and increasingly estranged from his family, he came to resent the fans, the press, and those who ran the game.
MAN: No one in baseball ever supported Bobby Bonds; the owner, the general manager, the press, the teammates, nobody in the game stood up for the father.
So what Barry learned about baseball was: great talent matters, great scholarship about the game matters, but you can't count on anybody in this game to stand up for you, because they didn't stand up for my father.
NARRATOR: By the time he finished high school, Barry Bonds had become one of the best young players in the country.
In 1982, the Giants offered to sign him for $70,000, but when Bonds asked for just $5,000 more, they decided to pass, and he went to Arizona State University instead.
3 years later, Bonds signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and after only 115 minor league games, was called up to the majors.
ANNOUNCER: ...smacks his first major league home run, a deep... NARRATOR: He was only 21 years old but expectations could not have been greater.
On the base paths and in the outfield, Bonds was exceptionally fast, and quickly established himself as one of the greatest defensive players in the game.
One day, a teammate said, he will "put up numbers no one can believe."
OLBERMANN: Bonds had speed.
He had power.
He had defensive ability.
He had base running intelligence.
He knew the game backwards and forwards.
he had a great flair for the dramatic.
You could just see 20 years of a career unfolding and the prospect again of the greatest player of all time, which we all wanna see from the beginning.
BOBBY BONDS: It's a game that he loves, a game that he enjoys, a game that he has fun at.
He probably has more fun at baseball than any baseball player in the major leagues.
He has fun playing the game.
NARRATOR: "If he handles himself the way he is capable of, he's going to be a consistent star for years," said his manager, Jim Leyland.
But off the field, he could be self-absorbed, defensive, and prone to volatile outbursts.
MAN: You never knew what you were getting at Barry Bonds's locker.
You know, one day he could be very charming and tell you the greatest stories of the world.
The next day he just might bite your head off and tell you to get lost in very un-polite terms.
I'm his father, you gotta realize this.
And we walked in the clubhouse and he stopped talking to me.
He, like, goes into this place and he doesn't wanna be bothered.
NARRATOR: He did little to cultivate the press.
"My job does not say, 'Walk in the locker room and kiss butt,'" he told them, "it says, 'Go to work.'"
When reporters mistakenly called him Bobby, he snapped, "I'm Barry.
Bobby's my father."
And he was quick to remind them how badly he thought they had treated his dad.
He asked them to judge him only by his own accomplishments.
And when Pittsburgh writers and fans heaped praise and affection on other, less talented players, like centerfielder Andy Van Slyke, Bonds seethed.
MAN: He didn't play the hero game.
And he did chafe at the fact that Andy Van Slyke was a white player and was Mr. Pittsburgh.
Barry used to call him the Great White Hope.
And it just shows you how, how resentful he was that he was the best player.
He was the guy with the talent.
He was the player who was driving this, this young Pittsburgh team into a--into a powerhouse and yet he didn't get the type of recognition that he thought he deserved.
NARRATOR: In 1990, Bonds's fifth season in the majors, he stole 52 bases, hit 33 home runs, and helped lead Pittsburgh to its first division title since 1979.
Baseball writers voted Bonds the National League's Most Valuable Player.
Pittsburgh would go on to win its division again in 1991 and 1992, but each time they failed to reach the World Series as Bonds struggled in the postseason, hitting .191 with only one home run.
Still, in 7 brilliant seasons, he had become one of the premier players in the game, twice stealing 30 bases and hitting 30 home runs in a single season, just as his father had, winning 3 Gold Gloves and another MVP.
It's in his mind-- "I--I want more.
I gotta get more.
I gotta get more."
He's just too proud.
He wants to be the best.
I mean, he's just not going out there playing.
He wants to be the best.
NARRATOR: Frustrated that the Pirates had never paid him what he thought he was worth, Bonds had no intention of spending the rest of his career in Pittsburgh.
And now, at 28, he was a free agent.
One thing was clear, wherever he chose to play, he was sure to bring his outsized talent-- and his outsized baggage-- with him.
Talk about turning on a ball.
ANNOUNCER: One and 2 on Griffey.
Well hit ball!
Back she goes!
Going, going, good-bye, baseball!
Ken Griffey, Jr.!
NARRATOR: In Seattle, another astonishingly talented son of a major leaguer, Ken Griffey, Jr., was thrilling fans with one of the most beautiful swings in all of baseball history and the joyous abandon with which he played the game.
Unlike Barry Bonds, Griffey was loved as well as admired, and in just 5 years in the majors had come to represent the very best the game had to offer.
ANNOUNCER: Pitch driven on a line.
What a catch by Griffey!
SECOND ANNOUNCER: Hit into center.
Coming on is Griffey and he can't get to it.
Greer never stopped.
Here's the throw to third.
He is out.
MAN: He played with great, great enthusiasm.
He was glorious to watch.
Really, really beautiful to watch.
We thought that he was going to shine as the greatest player of his era.
ANNOUNCER: [Indistinct] score.
[Indistinct] the bigger championship.
[Indistinct] SECOND ANNOUNCER: Fly ball into deep left centerfield.
Griffey going back to the warning track, leaps high in the air.
And he's got it!
An incredible catch by The Kid!
NARRATOR: On July 15, 1994, in a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians, umpires confiscated a bat belonging to the Indians' star slugger Albert Belle.
They suspected Belle had tampered with it-- illegally hollowing it out and filling it with cork to enhance his bat speed.
Belle's teammates were worried-- they were sure that all of Belle's bats were corked, and did not want their best player suspended.
ANNOUNCER: That bat will not get out of his hands.
NARRATOR: Indians' pitcher Jason Grimsley had a plan to get his teammate off the hook.
Gripping a flashlight with his teeth, he hoisted himself into the crawlspace above the clubhouse and inched along on his stomach until he was on top of the umpires' dressing room, where Belle's bat had been locked away for safekeeping.
Grimsley lowered himself into the room, replaced Belle's bat with an unadulterated one belonging to another player, and then crawled back to the clubhouse.
The umpires were furious when they discovered the switch, but there was little they could do about it.
OLBERMANN: The hero of the piece is probably Jason Grimsley because he's the one acting on behalf of the team.
This is a man willing-- willing to commit a kind of low scale burglary, a minor Watergate operation, in fact, a break-in to go and get this evidence back.
I mean it's--there's something-- there's something to be celebrated in that.
I'm not exactly sure what.
But there's your problem with cheating.
Some of it is in fact weirdly commendable, if not noble.
You know, Gaylord Perry-- how many times did he throw a spitball and how many times did he merely convince you that he threw a spitball?
How many of these are not so much cheats as deceptions, artful deceptions?
NARRATOR: Ever since Jim Creighton, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Niagras, first illegally snapped his wrist in 1859 to throw a rising fastball designed to fool hitters, players have found ways to bend or get around the rules.
For the most part, the game's many transgressors have been celebrated for their creativity as much as they have been castigated for their misdeeds.
When New York Giants' third baseman Bobby Thomson hit one of the most famous home runs in the history of the game, he and his teammates were using an illegal sign stealing system that told the hitters what pitch was coming.
Yankee left-hander Whitey Ford sometimes cut the ball with his wedding ring, and smeared it with a mixture of turpentine, resin, and baby oil his teammates called "gunk."
He was easily elected to the Hall of Fame, considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
ANNOUNCER: 2 outs, 2 strikes on Reggie and you've got to know he's going to get the super sinker.
Here it comes.
The sinker, swung on and missed, Reggie is fuming at... NARRATOR: Late in his career, Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry confessed what those who had played against him knew all too well--that he had regularly doctored the ball.
Generations of major leaguers, including some of the greatest stars in the game, used some form of amphetamines to increase their focus and energy.
But by the late 1980s, some baseball players had found a new way to gain an edge.
PUBLIC ENEMY: ♪ Don't ♪ ♪ Don't, don't ♪ ♪ Don't, don't ♪ Don't, don't ♪ ♪ Here's what I want y'all to do for me, back... ♪ NARRATOR: In 1988, Jose Canseco astounded the baseball world when he became the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season.
PUBLIC ENEMY: ♪ ...daytime, radio scared of me, 'cause... ♪ NARRATOR: He told the press that intensive weight training was the reason for his success... PUBLIC ENEMY: ♪ 'Cause I know the time... ♪ NARRATOR: But something else was helping him achieve such an unprecedented combination of speed and power.
ANNOUNCER: And it settles into the upper deck.
SECOND ANNOUNCER: Oh, my goodness.
BOSWELL: There was another player, now in the Hall of Fame, who literally stood with me and mixed something and I said, "What's that?"
and he said, "It's a Jose Canseco milkshake."
and that year that Hall of Famer hit more home runs than he ever hit any other year.
PUBLIC ENEMY: ♪ Don't believe the hype ♪ So it wasn't just Canseco, and so one of the reasons that I thought, um, that it was an important subject was it was spreading.
It was already spreading by 1988.
NARRATOR: The sportswriter Tom Boswell tried to raise the issue, but no one paid attention.
Soon, other players, including some of Canseco's Oakland teammates, were asking him for advice, following his training program.
BRETON: We began seeing these enormous bodies like we'd never seen before.
And you know when you saw some guys take off their shirts all of a sudden it's like whoa, what's going on here?
NARRATOR: Canseco and others had transformed their bodies by taking heavy doses of anabolic steroids-- synthetically produced testosterone.
When taken in large enough amounts, it allowed users to lift prodigious amounts of weight every single day, rapidly building muscle mass while increasing their speed and agility.
BARNICLE: They found out if you take this you'll get stronger quicker.
The ball will go 15 feet further than it ever did.
Your swing through the zone across home plate, which is that big, will be that much quicker, thus more power.
They have a lot of time on their hands during the day.
They watch "SportsCenter."
They watch ESPN.
The highlight films are all, "Wow, look at that one!
A grand slam home run, hit the upper deck."
There's no highlight films of bunts.
NARRATOR: Synthetic testosterone had been created by European scientists in the 1930s, and used experimentally by the Germans during the Second World War to enhance their soldiers' strength and aggressiveness.
During the Cold War, eastern bloc countries gave enormous doses to their Olympic athletes-- and won medal after medal.
In the 1960s, professional football players started using them.
But in the mega-doses athletes took, steroids could cause tendon and ligament tears, kidney and liver damage, impotence, heart disease, and cancer.
By 1990, when Congress passed a law making it a felony to traffic in steroids, the Olympics, the NCAA, and the NFL had already banned them.
In the wake of drug scandals that had rocked the game in the 1980s, Commissioner Fay Vincent was more concerned with preventing cocaine and marijuana abuse.
And the powerful Major League Baseball Players Association, now led by Donald Fehr, was vehemently opposed to any mandatory steroid-screening program, as a violation of their members' right to privacy.
As a result, professional baseball players were free to take whatever they wanted, with no fear of punishment.
The notion that we would willingly surrender to our employer as the price of a job all the protections we insist on from the government is a rather extraordinary notion.
MAN: The Players Association did a horrible job in this case.
They should have seen this early on and said, wait a minute.
How can we expect some of our players to compete at a competitive disadvantage, or force them to make the horrible choice of running whatever risks there may be to their health or their reputations or whatever it may be, to either use to keep up or don't use and inevitably fall behind.
Who is it that we represent, the guilty or the innocent?
MAN: It's my belief that if the means that existed in the nineties existed in the twenties, that Babe and all his friends would have jumped in with both feet.
And so would Mays and Mantle and the people in the fifties.
If you're looking at that and saying to yourself, "I'm 35, I'm making $3 million a year as a back up infielder for the San Diego Padres," not to pick on them, "and if I take this stuff I can play another 5 years "and make another $15 million for my family and for--for the fact, for the rest of my life", why would you not do it?
You would've done anything to get to the big leagues before.
You'll do anything to stay in the big leagues now.
I think that's both very human and also very true of anyone with the kind of personality that gets to the top of an athletic profession.
MAN: We live in a time when we think everything can be cured by a medication.
If you want to talk about a performance-enhancing culture, let's look at Viagra, let's look at Levitra, all of these things that are advertised on daytime TV.
This is the time we live in.
We believe that modern medicine can make us supermen.
If our favorite ballplayers have succumbed to societal pressures to improve themselves, they are no worse than we are.
People get upset.
Who in the whole country wouldn't take a pill to make more money at their job?
If I--hey there's a pill and you're gonna get paid like Stephen Spielberg, you--you would take the pill.
You just would.
BRETON: It hasn't been easy being a Giants fan.
I ask myself the question all the time, "Why do I care so much?"
It has to be a character flaw on my part, a vice or a just a weakness.
The Giants have been in San Francisco, my home region, for 50 years.
And we don't have a single world championship to show for it.
They haven't won the World Series since 1954 when they were in New York.
And I'm middle aged now.
And I'm starting to wonder if it's ever gonna happen in my lifetime.
NARRATOR: Ever since they had moved to San Francisco's Candlestick Park, the Giants had struggled to draw fans to the coldest and windiest stadium in the majors.
In 1992, owner Bob Lurie demanded that the city build him a new park, and when they refused, decided to sell the club to investors who would move it back across the continent to Florida.
Then, Peter Magowan, a former supermarket magnate, bought the team and promised one day to build the Giants a new ballpark.
He then began searching for a star, a high profile free agent, who could attract the legions of fans he would need to pay for his new stadium.
MAN: Good news for Giant fans.
Baseball's richest contract handed out.
National League Most Valuable Player Barry Bonds agreed to a 6-year contract with the Giants worth in excess of $43 million.
BRETON: It was a Saturday night.
I was home.
I was watching television.
And there was a news flash that the Giants were going to sign Barry Bonds.
Are you kidding me?
Because the Giants had a chance to sign him coming out of high school in the Bay Area and they wouldn't pay the price.
I mean, if someone had told us at the time, we would have gladly passed a hat and signed him for the money.
So, ah, so when he came back, we thought, "OK, we've closed that miserable chapter and now maybe we have a chance."
And I was aware of his reputation.
But I didn't care.
BARRY BONDS: I--I can't say how excited I am to have the opportunity to go back home and have something to share with my family and--and the city that I grew up in.
My godfather Willie Mays...umm... it's like a boyhood dream that comes true for me.
NARRATOR: He chose to wear his father's old number, "25"-- and a few days later, the Giants announced that Bobby Bonds himself would be rejoining his old team as hitting and first-base coach.
Bobby had sworn off the drinking that had derailed his career and complicated his relationship with his family, and was happy to be back in professional baseball alongside his son.
BRETON: Well, he hit a home run in his first at bat at Candlestick Park and they won the game in dramatic fashion.
And from day one he was playing on a level that I had never seen before.
ANNOUNCER: First at bat before the new hometown fans.
And so Barry Bonds put that team on his shoulders and he hit 46 home runs that year.
And it was just every time they needed a dramatic home run he was there.
NARRATOR: Bonds did exactly what Peter Magowan was paying him to do.
He batted .336 and led the league with 46 home runs and 123 RBIs--all career highs.
He was named MVP for the third time.
He was making baseball fun again in San Francisco.
But for all of Bonds's greatness, the Giants would make the playoffs only once in the 1990s-- and never reach the World Series.
BRETON: It's part of being a Giants fan.
In lieu of a championship we had Barry Bonds, all right?
And it was one of many bargains that Giants fans have made with themselves to get over the fact that there's no title.
So from 1993 forward, Bonds became the next best thing.
ANNOUNCER: There it is.
Home run number 300 for Barry Bonds.
MAN: Baseball's economic model, individual teams generating their own revenue and keeping as much of it as they could, predates television, radio, flight, the internal combustion engine.
It goes back deep into the 19th century, and it is utterly unsuited to the modern age.
NARRATOR: In 1994, the Montreal Expos looked like the next great baseball dynasty.
They were loaded with young talent: Moises Alou, Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, Pedro Martinez.
And they posed a serious threat to the Atlanta Braves, the best team in the National League.
ANNOUNCER: The Expos have won 6 in a row.
NARRATOR: By the end of July, the Expos seemed unstoppable.
They were led by Moises Alou's father Felipe.
ANNOUNCER: What a story.
The best team in baseball resides in Montreal.
FELIPE ALOU: Well, that's the best team I--I ever managed on any level.
We had a club that, that we developed through our minor league system.
We had tremendous pitching.
We had defense.
And it was young and eager and very hungry and healthy club.
NARRATOR: Montreal was not the only city where great baseball was being played that summer.
In San Francisco, Barry Bonds's teammate Matt Williams was hitting home runs at a furious pace, possibly on track to break Roger Maris's single season record of 61.
In San Diego, Tony Gwynn, the Padres' superb right fielder, had been hitting so consistently that he had been able to keep his batting average above .390.
By August, it seemed he might do what no one had done since Ted Williams in 1941, hit .400 for the season.
ANNOUNCER: That guy can flat out hit.
NARRATOR: But then, developments off the field stole the spotlight.
Ever since the players had formed their union in 1966, tensions with the owners had steadily escalated.
There had been a strike or a lockout every time they had had to negotiate a new contract.
And over the years, court rulings had given the players more and more power.
Now in the middle of the 1994 season, the two adversaries were embroiled in their bitterest contract dispute yet.
WILL: It became carnivorous, a terrible legacy grew up where it was expected that when a collective bargaining agreement expired, the 2 sides would be at daggers drawn, and you would have a work stoppage.
This bitterness and suspicion festered because a number of owners frankly were un-reconciled to the existence, not just this or that behavior of the union, the existence of the union.
FEHR: Why did they wanna break the union?
Because then they could go back to setting the salary levels and over any significant period of time the difference in their revenue would be measured in the billions of dollars.
NARRATOR: Desperate to unify their own ranks, the owners, who had also been squabbling among themselves over revenue, had ousted Commissioner Fay Vincent, replacing him with one of their own, Milwaukee Brewers' owner Bud Selig.
Selig was certain that if baseball was to thrive, the owners had to work in concert.
Unfortunately, the--the acrimony between the parties was so intense that we just couldn't get anywhere.
By '93 and '94, you knew that disparity had set in, the small and medium market clubs were really feeling that they had no chance.
The system needed significant economic change and we were getting nowhere.
And you couldn't go on the way we were going.
NARRATOR: During the 1994 season, the owners made a proposal they knew the union would never accept.
They offered to share revenue with each other, but only if the union agreed to a limit on the total amount each team could pay its players, a salary cap.
Don Fehr and the Player's Association had been talking for 15 years about how a salary cap was off the table, that they could never accept such a thing.
And they reacted accordingly.
You know, as far as we're concerned, we're ready to play.
But we're obviously not going to do it, ah, under the terms of a salary cap, so as soon as they're ready to come to us with a deal... we fe--we feel like they'll come to us and start dealing, but we don't know when that point in time is yet.
NARRATOR: On August 12, the players walked out.
The baseball season was suspended indefinitely.
The owners were prepared to wait them out, confident that the union would give in.
MAN: The question here, ladies and gentlemen, is one very simple one.
The players went out on strike, their average compensation is $1.2 million, and all we have been trying to find out is how much more do they want.
This dispute arises because the clubs could not get their own internal house in order and redefine their revenue sharing rules.
THORN: You had 2 sides locked in a battle that neither thought could be lost.
It's--it's like people who go to court thinking, the jury has gotta see it my way because I'm in the right, but only a fool goes to court.
Only a fool stops playing baseball in the middle of August.
MAN: Here is Bob Costas.
COSTAS: And the other shoe has finally dropped in the ongoing baseball wars.
The acting commissioner Bud Selig, the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, has just made it official.
The remainder of the regular season and the entire postseason playoffs and World Series have officially been cancelled.
This news release was just... BRYANT: When they agreed to cancel the World Series, I remember thinking that this is something you didn't think was gonna happen, and that--that it really did prove how much these 2 sides really, really hated each other and how little they thought of the public.
Basically what, they're arguing over how to spend our money, right?
You know, I mean, I'm a baseball fan and I'd like to see them play ball, but I--I, you know, I have no sympathy for either party.
BRETON: The fact that it shut down and stayed shut down was devastating.
I can remember being in New York in the fall and being on the 7 train and going past Shea Stadium.
It looked like a--it looked like a graveyard to me.
I can remember just thinking they should be playing right now.
And just being so angry to the point where, like, there were tears in my eyes.
NARRATOR: When the season ended after 117 games, Tony Gwynn's batting average was .394.
WILL: I remember very well talking to Tony Gwynn, who had really nothing to gain.
He was a superstar in 1994.
He didn't hesitate about striking because Tony Gwynn said, uh, I'm a union guy.
People sacrificed for me.
I will sacrifice for the coming generation of ballplayers.
NARRATOR: Felipe Alou and the Montreal Expos were in first place in their division, with a 6 game lead over the powerful Atlanta Braves.
They would never find out if they were in fact the best team in baseball.
FELIPE ALOU: It was really sad to not finish the season.
I believe that if we'd'a finished that season, we were gonna win it.
We were gonna get a stadium.
The interest of the fans there was gonna be great.
That was the beginning of the end.
NARRATOR: The Expos would never play that well again.
Their fans never came back.
12 years later, Montreal would lose its baseball team.
BRYANT: This was the strike of the millionaires versus the billionaires.
And people had just had enough.
No one knew what revenue sharing was or salary caps or, all they knew was that there were 2 entities of really rich people that couldn't get it together.
I still think this can be settled.
The parties are just going to have to decide whether they want to have a baseball season in '95, and what the long-term damage to baseball will be, and therefore the economics of both sides, if it doesn't happen.
NARRATOR: During the off-season, the owners declared that negotiations had reached an impasse, and that they would therefore implement a salary cap--unilaterally.
And they outraged fans by starting to hire "replacements" to put on the field in place of the striking major leaguers.
But in March of 1995, federal judge Sonia Sotomayor found the owners guilty of negotiating in bad faith.
The players agreed to go back to work under the contract that had been in effect before the strike began.
In the end, the owners had lost more than $700 million without winning a single concession, but the players had forfeited something more precious-- the respect of millions of fans who couldn't understand why they had walked out in the first place, since many of them were earning more in one week than the average American made in a year.
THORN: They sometimes forget that they're in the entertainment business.
They forget that without fans, they're back on the farm playing ball before cows, because there's nothing intrinsically valuable about the ability to smack a ball with a bat.
MARTINEZ: It's a shame that sometimes those things happen, because the fans don't deserve it.
But, ah, baseball has an ugly face.
And--and it's the business part.
And negotiations are not pretty.
But fans can always remember that we love to play for them and I don't think it's just because of the money, I think it's because they love it, they really love it.
Every big league player loves the game.
NARRATOR: When ballparks reopened in the spring of 1995, many stadiums were half empty, and those fans who did come out seemed more interested in berating their hometown teams than cheering them on.
THORN: I have never encountered such bitterness and such, uh, assurances on the parts of my friends that they would never watch another baseball game, that they no longer cared about the game.
They were going to shift their allegiance not only from one team to another but from one sport to another.
WOMAN: I think the anger really took baseball officials aback.
They really did not think that the anger could sustain itself, and it really did.
And I think that you saw a fan base saying to baseball, you know what, it's not your sport.
It's our sport.
NARRATOR: At Shea Stadium, fans climbed onto the field and tossed dollar bills at the feet of Mets players.
In Detroit, they threw bottles and cans, baseballs and lighters, even a hubcap onto the field.
All across the country, the game's biggest stars were met with choruses of boos.
The loudest taunts were reserved for players who had spoken for the union, like Atlanta's ace left-hander, Tom Glavine.
A month into the season, attendance was down 20%.
Something had to be done.
The owners and the players knew they could never risk alienating the public again.
BARNICLE: You suffer a shocking loss and you think it's never gonna be the same again.
And you're thinking I'm, I'm not going to another game.
I'm not gonna pay the prices that go into the players' pockets and into management's wallets.
I'm not gonna do it.
I'm sick of all of them.
And then Ripken comes along.
ANNOUNCER: Breaking ball goes past Rip, Ripken.
Get it in the hole?
Yes, he does.
Fires to first.
Got him at first base.
Cal Ripken dives, flips to second.
Shot to Cal Ripken.
[Indistinct] Fires across.
[Indistinct] play by Cal.
NARRATOR: Cal Ripken, Jr. never wanted to do anything but play in the major leagues.
The son of a Baltimore Orioles coach, he often wore his Little League uniform to bed so he could be ready for the next day's game.
Since May of 1982, he had started every Orioles game.
BOSWELL: Cal Ripken's misunderstood.
He's not a great hitter who was a good shortstop, he's a great shortstop who was a good hitter.
Magnificent at charging the ball, excellent going in the hole, excellent behind second base, because when he picked up a ground ball, he could do the 360 and throw to first with real strength.
Oh, and one other thing, he loved to turn the double play because he loved to go up in the air and then come down on the runners and see if he could kill them after the play.
He was a tough, old-school guy.
NARRATOR: When play resumed after the strike, Cal Ripken was only 116 games shy of breaking one of the most formidable records in baseball.
If he stayed healthy, that September, he would pass Lou Gehrig's mark of 2,130 consecutive games played.
WILL: People said gosh, isn't he lucky he didn't get hurt.
Every baseball player's hurt by August... nicks, bruises, scrapes, strains, sprains.
He just played through it.
This was the face that baseball needed to turn to a disenchanted fan base, and it could not have been better.
NARRATOR: As he approached the record, Ripken quietly waged a solitary campaign to refill half-empty ballparks one fan at a time.
BOSWELL: He truly acted like an adult after the strike and saw what he could bring to the game in 1995, even at an enormous cost to himself.
Signing autographs for hours and hours.
I remember one night when, y'know, we came back up from interviewing and finished our stories, it's midnight now and you look out and there's still a line going all the way back up into the stands and Cal is still signing autographs.
NARRATOR: On September 6, 1995, 5 months after the strike had ended, the Orioles faced the California Angels in Baltimore.
Tickets for this game had been sold out for months.
After 4 1/2 innings of play, the game was official.
Cal Ripken had played in 2,131 consecutive games.
ANNOUNCER: ...the moment you've been waiting for.
[Crowd cheering] NARRATOR: It would be 3 more years before he finally took a day off.
By then, Cal Ripken had played in 2,632 straight games.
Baseball had learned its lesson.
From now on, it would honor its players and celebrate its most defining moments.
ANNOUNCER: Watch Charlie and see where he sets up.
Nope, staying away.
SECOND ANNOUNCER: Got him, took something off.
10 strikeouts for Maddux.
NARRATOR: After the strike, the Atlanta Braves, led by manager Bobby Cox, resumed their remarkable supremacy over the National League-- though a World Series victory still eluded them.
Much of their success was due to their phenomenal pitching staff, anchored by Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Greg Maddux.
OKRENT: I love, love to watch Greg Maddux pitch.
I love to watch this guy who looks like a CPA, and I don't mean to knock CPAs, well, none of my best friends are CPAs, but I don't mean to knock CPAs.
You see Maddux off the field, he puts on his glasses.
He's this really kind of nerdy-looking guy.
He's not big.
He's very normal size.
He does not throw particularly hard.
And he's arguably one of the 3 or 4 best pitchers in baseball history.
There's this absolute knowledge of knowing what he's doing, and watching how he does that, that was a thrill.
Through the nineties when he was at his best, he was the best pitcher I've ever seen.
NARRATOR: Greg Maddux had learned the game on the ball fields of the many Air Force bases where his father was stationed.
ANNOUNCER: Line drive back to Maddux.
NARRATOR: Maddux succeeded spectacularly by relying on pinpoint control of 5 different pitches, and an uncanny ability to detect each hitter's weakness.
In 1995, Maddux led the league in wins, ERA, and innings pitched, winning his fourth consecutive Cy Young Award, something no pitcher had ever done before.
John Smoltz, a hard-throwing right-hander from Lansing, Michigan, had helped pitch his team to a pennant in 1992, leading the league in strikeouts and winning 3 games in the postseason.
Tom Glavine, from Billerica, Massachusetts, had excelled as a pitcher and hockey player in high school, and was drafted by both the Braves and the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL.
When the Braves had gone from last to first in 1991, Glavine, who had perfected a baffling changeup, led the way, winning 20 games and the first of his 2 Cy Young Awards.
In 1995, Atlanta's 3 aces pitched the Braves to their third World Series appearance in 5 years.
They would face the Cleveland Indians, playing in their first Series since 1954.
Led by Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and a 23-year-old outfielder, Manny Ramirez, Cleveland had slugged its way to 100 wins.
The Indians were confident, outspoken, and quick to remind Atlanta that they had lost both World Series they had played.
But thanks to their superb pitching, Atlanta won 3 out of the first 5 games.
In game 6, Bobby Cox sent Tom Glavine out to try to secure the Braves' first World Series title since 1957, when they were in Milwaukee.
Atlanta fans, who had booed Glavine unmercifully on opening day for being a player representative, now cheered him on as he went to work on Cleveland's powerful lineup.
Glavine pitched away from batters all night, continually locating his fastballs and changeups along the outside edges of the plate.
He allowed just one hit in 8 innings.
David Justice's solo home run in the sixth was all the scoring the Braves would need.
ANNOUNCER: Ramirez turns, to the track, she's gone!
[Crowd cheering] ANNOUNCER: Baerga is 0 for 3.
Left center field.
Grissom, on the run.
The team of the nineties has its world championship.
NARRATOR: Baseball was coming back.
BOSWELL: I started covering the Yankees in 1976, and the insanity that surrounded that team with all the Billy Martin firings, all the Reggie Jackson incidents, never really stopped.
It was always beneath the surface.
But the idea that one person could come into the middle of that-- below the level of the owner, below the level of the general manager-- just as the manager, someone who can be undermined, someone that you can go over, and that that person can have so much sanity, so much decency, so much insight into how to handle people that he can bring sanity to an inherently insane situation, is truly impressive.
NARRATOR: George Steinbrenner, the autocratic owner of the New York Yankees, had only one objective-- winning the World Series-- and since the 1970s, he had spent more than anyone else: buying up expensive free agents, trading away homegrown prospects, driving up salaries, and enraging his fellow owners.
But in spite of his efforts, the Yankees had not won a world championship since 1978.
In the summer of 1990, Steinbrenner had been suspended from the team for paying a small-time hustler for damaging information about one of his best players--Dave Winfield.
With Steinbrenner banished, Yankees general manager Gene Michael was free to build a winning club.
He held onto his best young players and gave them time to develop.
And he looked for seasoned veterans more concerned with winning games than piling up personal statistics.
Michael hired Buck Showalter to manage the club, and in 1995, the Yankees made it to the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons.
But by then, Steinbrenner had been reinstated, and he was not satisfied with just reaching the postseason.
He replaced Michael, fired Showalter, and for the 19th time in 23 years, he began searching for a new manager.
MAN: In 1995, I was fired by the Cardinals, in June.
And when I look back at my managing career, I managed the Mets, I managed the Braves, I managed the Cardinals.
I played for the Cardinals, I'd played for the Braves, I'd played for the Mets.
I think I ran out of clubs.
And the Yankees called.
NARRATOR: Joseph Paul Torre was born in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn, the fifth child of an Italian immigrant and her husband, a hotheaded and sometimes violent police detective.
As a boy, Torre loved to play ball with his friends in the neighborhood, making sure to be out of the house when his father was around.
His older brother Frank would go on to play for the Milwaukee Braves, and it was while visiting him during the 1957 World Series that Joe Torre decided he, too, wanted to be a major leaguer.
He eventually played 17 seasons in the National League as a catcher and infielder, winning the MVP in 1971, but never reaching the World Series.
In 14 years as a manager, he had only 5 winning seasons.
When the Yankees decided to take a chance on Joe Torre, the New York media were unimpressed.
The "Daily News" called him "Clueless Joe."
The "New York Times" asked, "What's a nice fellow like Torre doing in a place like this?"
TORRE: I was overwhelmed by the opportunity that I was gonna be presented here and probably find out if I could manage.
Yeah, you're gonna deal with, first off, a high-profile ball club, tough owner, and some players I didn't know anything about.
and when I had my first meeting, uh, I explained that every single coach on my coaching staff had been in a World Series.
I have not.
VERDUCCI: Well, I thought in 1996, Torre was the perfect guy for the Yankees.
What would be the worst thing that would happen to him?
So he came in with this "I'm playing with house's money" kind of attitude, and I think that's what you needed in New York.
NARRATOR: Torre's opening day lineup in 1996 included Bernie Williams, a shy, switch-hitting centerfielder from Puerto Rico, who scouts hoped would anchor the Yankee batting order for years to come.
In right field was the gritty, tightly wound veteran Paul O'Neill.
Tino Martinez, a power-hitting lefty from Florida, had replaced longtime first baseman Don Mattingly.
In the bullpen was a promising young reliever from Panama-- Mariano Rivera.
John Wetteland, acquired from the fading Expos, was the closer.
And at shortstop was a supremely poised rookie from Kalamazoo, Michigan who had dreamed of playing for the Yankees since the 3rd grade-- Derek Jeter.
ANNOUNCER: Holy cow.
His first big league home run.
VERDUCCI: A lot of people had their doubts about this kid, especially on defense and whether he was ready for the big leagues or not.
And Derek Jeter walked in there like this was his second time around the big leagues, like he had played in this league before.
Nothing bothered him.
ANNOUNCER: And he's out.
Derek Jeter... NARRATOR: Under Torre, the Yankees played a National League brand of baseball--stealing bases, moving up runners, scuffling for runs.
And everybody contributed.
The Yankees took control of the American League East within a month of opening day, and never surrendered it.
TORRE: I know people say, well, if you have good chemistry you have a chance to win.
I think winning creates that chemistry.
All of a sudden, you find yourselves in a fight, and you look around and you realize that you can't worry about reading the newspaper and--and find out if you're good or bad or listening to talk shows to find that out.
You gonna--you're gonna get your confirmation from those guys sitting in the locker room.
MAN: The thing about Torre was that the players trusted him because he had been a player.
And he had been both a great player and a terrible player.
And he always emphasized how terrible he was.
Every July, he would bring up and said, "Well, next Tuesday is the anniversary of the day "when I played for the Mets in 1975 and I batted into 4 double plays."
And the players love that.
They just loved it.
This absence of ego is absolutely astounding in, in any field, but in, in, in sports I think it was unique.
MAN: He had the players with which to win, but the one wild card with the Yankees was George Steinbrenner.
Joe was maybe the first manager who over and over again would talk about George Steinbrenner and he'd talk about him reverentially-- hey, he's the boss.
And obviously he could fire me tomorrow.
And one day he is gonna fire me.
But he's wrong when he says that about my guys.
And I called him and I told him that he's wrong.
NARRATOR: In the playoffs, the Yankees dispatched the Texas Rangers, and then beat Baltimore to win the pennant.
ANNOUNCER: ...but he can't get there in time, and the Yankees win the pennant.
NARRATOR: After 34 years and 4,268 games in professional baseball, Joe Torre was finally going to the World Series.
You know, the paychecks are pretty good in major league baseball, but if you wanna know what the World Series is about, all you had to do was look at the face of Joe Torre.
When they beat the Orioles and won the American League Pennant to go to the World Series in 1996.
It's a grown man crying in public.
He basically devoted his entire adult life to getting there.
No one had ever put in that many games and never been to a World Series.
He was the only one.
And to finally get there after all those years.
ANNOUNCER: Tears in his eyes.
And I remember him saying the night of game one of the 1996 World Series when they announced his name and he ran out there.
That's when it really hit him.
There were no other games going on.
The out of town scoreboard was completely blank.
And that's when the moment really hit him that "I made it."
This was it.
This was the top of Everest.
[Crowd cheering] NARRATOR: The Yankees would face Joe Torre's old team, the Atlanta Braves, going for their second straight World Series title.
In the first game at Yankee Stadium, the heavily favored Braves pummeled New York 12 to 1, the worst World Series defeat in Yankee history.
TORRE: George Steinbrenner walks into my office before game 2, and he says, "This is a big game."
Well, yeah, I know, I know it's a big game.
Only 7 games you pl-- get to play here.
And I, and for some reason I was in a goofy mood, and, and I, I didn't feel the same stress that I felt later on, but I said to him, "You know, George," I said, "Maddux is pitching against us."
"We're not really playing well right now.
"We're a little out of whack because we hadn't played in so long."
I said, "We may lose again tonight."
And I said, "But we're goin' to Atlanta.
That's my town."
I said, "We'll win 3 there and then next Saturday we'll come back and, and win the series for you."
And I walked out of my office.
NARRATOR: Just as Torre predicted, Greg Maddux and the Braves easily beat the Yankees in game 2.
New York needed to win 2 out of the next 3 games in Atlanta, just to stay alive.
TORRE: If you're down 2, which is the way we were, David Cone is my pitcher and he's the only one that had experience.
So I trusted David Cone.
NARRATOR: The son of a Kansas City industrial mechanic, David Cone had helped the Toronto Blue Jays to a World Series victory over Atlanta back in 1992.
But an aneurysm in his throwing arm had sidelined him for much of 1996, and only guile and determination had allowed him to finish the season.
Cone quieted the Atlanta bats through 5 innings.
ANNOUNCER: Cone fell behind 3 and 0, and he comes back... NARRATOR: But in the bottom of the sixth, Cone loaded the bases.
Fred McGriff, the Braves' fearsome cleanup hitter, came to the plate.
TORRE: Normally when a manager goes to the mound, he's always changing pitchers, because you, what you do is you send your pitching coach out once and, you know, he gets that visit over with and there's really no argument the next time you go out, you take the ball.
But I wanted to go out and just get a feel for, for David.
Uh, because he, you know, he's had some problems physically and, and I just wanted to make sure he was fine.
And I looked in his eyes.
I said, "I need you to tell me the truth.
Are you all right?"
He says, "I'm OK." Uh, now, he may not have been OK but the commitment he made to me and the--and the individual that he is, eh, you know, it was his obligation now to prove it.
FIRST ANNOUNCER: A lead off walk to Tom Glavine, a hit by Grissom that fell in front of Raines, and a one out walk to Chipper Jones to load them up.
Popped him up.
Off the hands for Jeter.
Are either one of you surprised that David Cone is staying in with a guy like Rivera ready out in the Yankee bullpen in a one run game?
SECOND ANNOUNCER: No, I'm not.
I mean, if Cone can pitch to McGriff and Klesko, my idea is that he can pitch to Lopez still with the lead.
FIRST ANNOUNCER: Bases loaded, 2 out.
To the right side, it's foul.
Girardi is there.
Down the line in right.
NARRATOR: The Yankees scored 3 more runs in the eighth inning and John Wetteland closed out the Braves in the ninth.
ANNOUNCER: To the right side, Sojo, Game 3 belongs to New York.
Wetteland wraps it up.
David Cone started it.
He gave the Yankees the start they needed.
NARRATOR: In Game 4, the Braves took a huge early lead.
ANGELL: And the Yankees fell behind 6 nothing in the middle innings and some of the Braves fans went home and I hope they never came back to another ball game after that for the rest of their lives.
TORRE: We know we're down 3 games to one if we lose this ball game.
And I said, "Let's just cut the lead in half.
Let's not eat the whole thing right now, but let's peck away."
NARRATOR: In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees began to fight back.
ANNOUNCER: A lead off base hit...now a walk, so a hit and a walk... into right field, base hit, it gets past Dye.
Here comes Jeter, he'll score.
Heading to third is Bernie Williams.
They bring him around, and it's a 4 run game.
NARRATOR: In the top of the eighth inning, with the Yankees still down 3 runs, reserve catcher Jim Leyritz came to bat with 2 men on.
He faced reliever Mark Wohlers, whose fastball had once been clocked at 103 miles per hour.
ANNOUNCER: And the 2-2 to Leyritz.
In the air to left field, back at the track, at the wall, we are tied!
A big inning for the Yankees.
Jeter will try to start it.
6-4-3, we're going to extra innings here in game 4.
NARRATOR: With 2 outs in the top of the tenth, the Yankees loaded the bases.
Torre had only one position player left on his bench, but it was Wade Boggs, one of the most disciplined hitters in the game.
ANNOUNCER: Boggs with a great eye at the plate.
He's gonna make Avery throw that ball over the strike zone.
SECOND ANNOUNCER: 3-2 pitch.
The Yankees take the lead.
NARRATOR: Boggs's walk brought in the go ahead run.
In the bottom of the tenth, Yankee pitcher John Wetteland kept Atlanta from scoring.
ANNOUNCER: Jones will walk down to second.
Pendleton shoots it to deep left.
Raines is there, falling as he catches it.
NARRATOR: At 4 hours, 17 minutes, it was the longest game in World Series history.
ANNOUNCER: And this series is tied at 2 games apiece.
NARRATOR: New York won the next game, as well-- just as Torre had promised Steinbrenner-- and they returned to Yankee Stadium needing one more victory.
TORRE: The sixth game of the World Series, now I'm finally nervous.
Now I--I've got this thing in my grasp.
Y-You can almost taste it.
You can almost feel it.
NARRATOR: The Yankees took a 3 to one lead into the ninth.
Torre turned once again to John Wetteland, who had saved all 3 Yankee victories in the Series.
TORRE: And then it comes down to the ninth inning.
Here we are 2 out, Lemke's up, hits a foul pop-up, 2 strikes.
Over toward the dugout Charlie Hayes comes over.
He's gonna catch it, he's gonna catch it.
It goes in the dugout.
So now you swallow again.
And all of a sudden the next pitch, same place, except it looks like it's gonna stay in-- in the field where you can make a play.
And just as Charlie Hayes is about to catch the ball, I just see Jeter's arms go up in the air.
NARRATOR: After 18 years, the Yankees, the most successful franchise in baseball history, were back on top.
TORRE: It was so magical for me that night that I, I was just, just drinkin' it all in.
And I don't know what time I left the clubhouse... and I never bothered to take my uniform off.
I left the ballpark with my uniform drenched.
I don't think I've ever experienced more excitement than that.
NARRATOR: The New York Yankees would win the World Series again in 1998, 1999, and 2000, sweeping both the San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves, then defeating the New York Mets in the first Subway Series since 1956.
The heart of the Yankees would remain the homegrown players they had so carefully cultivated: Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter.
Joe Torre, who had once been best known for the number of games he had played and managed without reaching the World Series, would win 4 in 5 years.
BOSWELL: I grew up hating the Yankees.
I've never been ashamed.
I think it's very clear that over 90% of all baseball fans hate the Yankees and should, and that the best state for baseball to be in is for the Yankees to be a contender and then lose in the end.
However, in the late nineties, not only because of Torre being the manager and Don Zimmer being part of the--part of the operation, but of just scrappy smart players like O'Neill and Knoblauch, and the fact that they showed people how you play both small ball and big ball, how you work the count, how you play team baseball and win 4-3, not 9-1, they were a wonderful team to watch, and it was a bitter pill for me.
But I did realize that it was my job to get over the hump, and--and I think that there's about a 3-year period back there when I successfully swallowed the bile and gave credit where credit was due... and, uh, that Yankee team will probably be, ironically, the best team I ever cover.
That's quite unfortunate, isn't it?
[Laughs] BRETON: Growing up as a Mexican American kid in Northern California, there weren't a lot of positive images.
And then in baseball there was Roberto Clemente.
And the '71 series was an epiphany for me because he just controlled that World Series.
He seemed to jump off the TV screen.
But when the series was over and he spoke in Spanish... it was really something for me to see somebody... recognizing his parents.
CLEMENTE: I would like to say something for my mother and father in Spanish.
Mr. And Mrs. Clemente, we love him, too.
I understood you.
BRETON: He was so ramrod straight and spoke with so much pride.
And he carried himself in a certain way and he reminded me of people in my life who I knew, who I respected, who I admired.
NARRATOR: Roberto Clemente had come north from the cane fields of Puerto Rico to become baseball's first great Latin star, his fierce pride and dignity an inspiration for an entire generation.
Although Clemente and many other Latin players of his era played with tremendous flair and brought an electrifying intensity to the game, it was not until the 1980s that major league teams began to fully open their doors to talented players from outside the United States.
As free agency drove up salaries and signing bonuses for native-born players, teams turned to Latin America, where young prospects were not subject to the baseball draft, and could therefore be procured for a fraction of what they would cost in America.
BRYANT: Every team spends millions and millions of dollars to cultivate those players.
And the reason that they wanna cultivate them is because you can get more players cheaper there.
In a sense it's no different than the first wave of integration with Robinson, where coming out of the Negro Leagues, the African American player was the cheapest commodity available.
And you could cultivate those players the same way you can cultivate the Latino player today.
You can get more for less.
NARRATOR: Scouts fanned out across the Latin American and Caribbean countries where baseball was played, and revered-- the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Colombia.
Only Cuba was off limits.
By the late 1980s, Latin players could be found at all levels of the national pastime.
More came from the Dominican Republic, an impoverished Caribbean nation of only 9 million, than anywhere else.
It was said that "No one walks off the island, you have to hit your way off."
Thousands of Dominican boys with raw talent, but little formal training, vied to attract the attention of buscones-- local scouts who coached children as young as 10, honing their skills, offering them gloves, bats and shoes, food, vitamins, and even performance enhancing supplements, to help them grow strong enough to compete.
If a boy was lucky enough at 16 to sign with an American team, his buscone negotiated his contract, and helped himself to a hefty cut of the prospect's signing bonus.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Toronto Blue Jays were the first teams to reap the benefits of recruiting and training large numbers of Dominican players.
NARRATOR: They built baseball "academies" designed to prepare the hundreds of young boys they had signed for professional baseball, and for living in the United States.
MARTINEZ: It was really difficult for me to adjust.
And then the people at the Academy told us it's gonna be tough.
Don't be crying, don't be saying you miss this or this or that.
You, you gotta, you gotta get strong, and sometimes I really did.
Even though they told us, I was really homesick, because I used to be with my mom all the time.
Sometimes, you know what, I sneak in my mom's bed and sleep with my mom sometimes and talk to her and do the gardening with her.
When I didn't have those things and everything was just baseball, bus rides for 12 hours and then pitch, it was really difficult.
MAN: You say, wow, I'm going to America.
I'm going to play baseball in America, and you expect, you know, all these big buildings and big highways, stuff that you see in movies and magazines.
And you--you are dreaming, you know, to--to come a huge city like New York or Chicago or something like that.
And when we got to Butte, Montana, we didn't really see too many people.
[Laughs] I remember that I went there with a friend of mine.
We both sign from Venezuela and when we got there it's like, are we really in the United States or what?
[Laughs] ANNOUNCER: The pitch to him, and he chops it toward short.
Vizquel bare hand grab.
The throw, it's in time!
Oh, what a play by Galarraga.
And a double play...In the hole, Ordonez with a long throw... [Indistinct] A drive deep right field, Bautista looking up.
NARRATOR: In 1997, 15 of the players chosen to play in the All-Star game were Latin, including Pedro Martinez, Edgar Martinez, Moises Alou, Andres Galarraga, Roberto and Sandy Alomar, Mariano Rivera, Ivan Rodriguez, and Alex Rodriguez.
WILL: 3 of the 5 most common surnames in recent years in baseball have been Rodriguez, Martinez, and Perez.
It's just another wave of immigration, if you will, in making baseball a world sport.
ANNOUNCER: And he hits a ground ball on the right... NARRATOR: As Hispanic players became increasingly prominent, the media began to highlight their inspiring rise from poverty.
ANNOUNCER: Very, very deep and kiss it good-bye--a home run.
NARRATOR: And few big leaguers could lay claim to a childhood filled with greater privation than Sammy Sosa.
He grew up desperately poor and fatherless in the Dominican sugar mill town of San Pedro de Macoris, birthplace of dozens of major leaguers.
He scuffled for odd jobs, shined shoes to bring a few centavos home to his mother, and idolized Roberto Clemente.
Sosa was fast, skinny but strong, and determined, and attracted the notice of a scout who signed him for $3,500.
Sosa worked his way up through the minors, and played for 2 different big league clubs before eventually landing a 3-year, $16 million contract with the Chicago Cubs.
BRETON: Sammy Sosa.
He would have been a day laborer.
He would have been someone who would have come to New York as an undocumented immigrant but for baseball.
It's one thing to talk about living through hunger, it's another thing to actually do it, to be hungry.
And he was hungry as a--as a child.
Not hungry to be a successful player but he was hungry as in I don't have enough food.
And so it was those experiences that really drove him and really drove him to be a great success and I believe later brought him down.
NARRATOR: Thousands in Latin America dreamed of growing up to become the next Sammy Sosa, but only a tiny fraction of those signed by American teams ever made it to the major leagues; most could look forward to a season or 2 in the minors before being given a plane ticket back home.
[Man speaking Spanish] BRETON: The vast majority of Latin American players will not reach the big leagues.
You can either hit Uncle Charlie or you can't.
You have movement or you don't.
Or you can throw 90 or you can't.
These kids have been programmed in their own minds that they're not gonna go back.
There's nothing to go back to.
So what happens is they stay... and there's these great leagues, semi pro leagues, particularly in New York, Central Park, Brooklyn, the Bronx.
And you're seeing all these guys.
And you go to these games, and they're cool to watch because you see little flashes of what I'm sure the scouts saw in them.
But it's not quite there.
They're not quite fast enough.
They don't quite throw hard enough.
There's just a little bit too big of a hole in their swing.
ANNOUNCER: We're live here in Brooklyn, New York.
2 and 2 is the count, runner on first base.
Every weekend, great baseball here in Brooklyn.
[Speaking Spanish] 6 to 1, we are in the top of the fifth inning.
BRETON: It's an aspect of capitalism.
There are winners and there are losers.
You know, these kids would have never given up the opportunity to try.
And for a lot of them, they, some of them can't watch baseball anymore.
It's just too painful for them.
[Organ playing] CROWD: Charge!
[Organ playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"] WILL: This is the Golden Age for a number of reasons.
First place, baseball is the most observable team game.
9 players thinly dispersed over an eye-pleasing green background.
And baseball rediscovered in the nineties the ballpark, which is a setting for this jewel.
NARRATOR: Throughout the 1990s, as the economy boomed and the national pastime continued to recover from the strike, baseball found a new old way to bring fans back to the game.
It had all started in Baltimore, on the waterfront, with Camden Yards.
With its brick facade and asymmetrical outfield fence, it was a welcome departure from the sterile, concrete, suburban stadiums that had been built in the early 1970s.
People came in droves.
Over the next 18 years, 19 other clubs would replace their stadiums with cozy, new ballparks, publicly financed architectural acts of faith that many hoped would rehabilitate the fading economies of their inner cities as much as the fortunes of their teams.
Unlike the old stadiums they were meant to evoke, the new parks replaced inexpensive seats with luxury boxes that catered to well-heeled corporate executives and the high-tech millionaires America seemed to be minting every day.
As the new parks were built, attendance continued to rise around the leagues.
And so did the number of home runs that were soaring over the fences.
"A no-hitter is a rare thrill," wrote the "New York Times," "but nothing quite captures the imagination like a home run."
ANNOUNCER: This could be it.
SECOND ANNOUNCER: It is.
THIRD ANNOUNCER: Gone!
SECOND ANNOUNCER: Bang.
Did he know it?
[Indistinct] BRYANT: Cecil Fielder hit 50 home runs in 1990.
And before that, it hadn't been done since 1977.
So when you go back and you look at the rarity of the 50 home run season, it was...it was as remarkable as--as a no-hitter and even more so.
And then all of a sudden it became commonplace.
NARRATOR: Home runs had spiked before, but this was quantitatively and qualitatively different, and many started asking whether smaller parks alone could account for the dramatic change in the game.
BRYANT: Name me one innovation over the past 20 years that has helped the pitcher.
Everything has helped the hitter.
This game is so far out of balance toward the hitter that that's one of the biggest reasons why you have so many home runs.
The ballparks are smaller.
The strike zones are smaller.
You can't pitch inside.
You can't knock a hitter down anymore without getting into a brawl.
Everything helps the hitter.
ANNOUNCER: [Indistinct] hit it way back.
Way back, to the wall.
NARRATOR: In 1992, major league players had hit a total of 3,038 home runs.
Just 4 years later, they hit 4,962.
Fans loved it.
Some purists were not pleased.
WILL: Baseball went through a period of get 2 runners on base, get Godzilla to the plate, have him hit it into Tokyo Bay.
ANNOUNCER: That ball was completely destroyed.
The problem is, uh, in baseball it's not always true what, uh, Mae West said when she said, "Too much of a good thing is wonderful."
NARRATOR: For 37 years, Roger Maris had held the record for the most home runs in a single season--61.
Few had even come close to breaking it.
But as the 1998 season approached, 2 sluggers seemed to have a legitimate chance at Maris's mark: the Seattle Mariners' star centerfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., who had hit 56 home runs the year before, and a man who seemed specifically constructed for this new assault on the old record.
The shy son of a dentist from Southern California, Mark McGwire excelled at baseball in high school, but took a year off from the game as a junior to pursue golf, where, he said, "you were the only one there to blame when something went wrong."
In 1987, his first full season with the Oakland Athletics, McGwire had belted 49 home runs, breaking the rookie record by 11.
The following year, he began training with teammate Jose Canseco.
The duo became known as the "Bash Brothers" for their soaring home runs and the forearm bump they exchanged after each towering blast.
The 2 sluggers led the A's to the World Series 3 years in a row.
Over the next few seasons, McGwire continued to add muscle to his already massive frame, and spent months on the disabled list with frequent injuries to his overstrained joints and tendons.
But when healthy, he hit balls out of the park with astonishing frequency.
ANNOUNCER: Well, there's number 36.
NARRATOR: In 1995, he hit 39 home runs in only 104 games.
In 1996, he smashed 52 in 130 games-- better than one in every 9 at-bats.
It was then that sportswriters and fans began to wonder if McGwire might be the one to eclipse Roger Maris... if he could manage to stay healthy for an entire season.
Midway through 1997, looking to cut costs, the A's traded McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was reunited with his old Oakland manager, Tony La Russa.
He finished the season with 58 home runs.
BRETON: Something happened when that guy landed in St. Louis.
He went from playing before empty stadiums at Oakland to full stadiums in St. Louis, arguably the best baseball town in America.
He looks like something straight out of American folklore.
I mean, immediately he was embraced by the fans.
NARRATOR: McGwire launched his first home run of 1998 on March 31--a grand slam.
On April 14, he hit his fifth, sixth, and seventh.
Ken Griffey kept pace, and by the end of April, they were tied at 11.
ANNOUNCER: Number 300 for Ken Griffey, Jr. NARRATOR: Then McGwire took off.
A home run on May 12 traveled 527 feet.
Another on May 16 went 545.
On May 19, he hit 3.
And on May 23, he hit 2 more.
VERDUCCI: It sounds crazy now, but looking back on it, one of the highlights of that season was watching batting practice.
It was a show.
Teams would come out early for stretching to make sure they watched McGwire take batting practice.
I'll never forget.
He would step in and would-- he would always bunt the first pitch.
And people would "boo."
You know, they--and then he would proceed to put on a show like you've never seen before.
You could have gone home before the first pitch and had your money's worth watching Mark McGwire take batting practice.
NARRATOR: McGwire finished May with 27 home runs.
He was a full month ahead of Maris's 1961 pace.
Ken Griffey, Jr. struggled to keep up.
Then, from out of nowhere, another slugger joined the chase.
Sammy Sosa might have had a big contract, but he had never lived up to his potential.
Although the now bulked-up slugger had hit 40 home runs in 1996, he remained undisciplined at the plate, often hacking at balls well outside the strike zone.
One sportswriter wrote, "He would attack a paper cup if it came floating toward home plate."
BRETON: Sosa had a good year statistically in '97 but he struck out a lot.
And, and really was a--an object of derision on the Cubs because he had signed this big contract and they felt like that his numbers were hollow.
NARRATOR: The Cubs' hitting coach had devised a plan to help Sosa become a more patient batter.
BRETON: They would do this repetition drill where they would throw the ball and Sammy would tap his foot on the ground as, like, a loading device, to load his body.
And then he would follow through with his foot and then just connect.
And it was just this one little motion, this little hitch that they had changed in his swing that took him from Sammy Sosa the really good player who maybe was a little overrated to Sammy Sosa the superstar.
NARRATOR: It all came together in June.
He hit home runs on June 5, 6, 7, and 8, each one punctuated by an exuberant, sideways, skipping home run trot.
On the 15th, he hit 3.
On the 19th, he hit 2.
On the 25th, he smashed his 19th home run of the month, breaking a 50-year-old record.
By June 30, he had 33, only 4 fewer than Mark McGwire.
ANNOUNCER: Mark who?
We'd always looked at the game as a black or white game.
We looked at America as a black or white country.
Those of us who don't fit the description knew that wasn't true but we didn't have... the example to point to.
And then when Sammy Sosa exploded in June of 1998, there it was.
WOMAN: You both come from such different backgrounds.
As children, could you ever have envisioned yourselves sitting in this setting?
Not really, but I have to say, baseball been very, very good to me.
[Laughter] NARRATOR: While McGwire seemed to want to be left alone, Sosa was having the time of his life.
His thousand-watt smile, his palpable sense of joy in what he was doing, enthralled the public.
By the fourth of July, America had fallen in love with Sammy Sosa.
No Latin player-- not even Clemente, or the Dodgers' great Mexican pitcher of the 1980s, Fernando Valenzuela-- had ever before received such an outpouring of affection and admiration.
The baseball players, with all the money they were making, they made baseball seem like drudgery, like it was a job.
And so Sammy Sosa was like a throwback.
He loved the game and he wasn't afraid to show it.
ANNOUNCER: ...29-year-old native Dominican Sammy Sosa.
He may be from south of the border, Bobby, but he's as much Chicago as Michael Jordan or Harry Caray.
BRETON: He was reminding people why they love baseball.
That it was supposed to be fun.
And he had so much fun.
NARRATOR: By mid-summer, the home run contest had become front-page news, with hordes of reporters now trailing both sluggers everywhere they went.
Millions got caught up in the excitement.
In St. Louis and Chicago, Caracas and San Juan, Tokyo and Santo Domingo, they couldn't get enough of Sosa and McGwire.
People, when they woke up in the morning, they wanted to know did McGwire hit one?
Did Sammy hit one?
It was a constant update.
And everybody had a horse in the race.
MARTINEZ: I got caught up in it.
I was rooting for Sammy as much as I was rooting for McGwire because he's such a nice gentleman.
And Sammy's my countryman.
And I--I really became a fan.
I was like, how many did they hit today?
You know, sometimes when I was pitching, ah, as soon as the game was over, turn on, you know, one of the sports channels and, and they say how many they hit.
Oh, oh, my God, they're gonna break the record.
Innocence is beautiful sometimes.
NARRATOR: In Chicago, one Sosa blast sailed out of Wrigley Field and struck a front porch across the street.
The owners put up a sign reading, "Sammy was here."
In Milwaukee, fans booed when St. Louis's backup first baseman took the field instead of McGwire, who had been given a rare day off.
When McGwire came to Pittsburgh, the Pirates had the first back-to-back regular-season sellouts in the 27-year history of Three Rivers Stadium.
On August 10, Sosa smashed his 46th of the season, and for the first time since opening day, the 2 sluggers were tied.
ANNOUNCER: The President testifies.
A special edition of "NBC Nightly News" from Washington.
WOMAN: We have learned that the president did indeed tell Ken Starr that he had an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
That was expected.
NARRATOR: To a country transfixed by the revelation that the president had cheated on his wife and lied about it, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa provided a welcome distraction.
But then, Steve Wilstein, a reporter covering McGwire for the Associated Press, broke a story that cast doubt on the legitimacy of the home run chase.
WILSTEIN: You know, I was standing by McGwire's locker in St. Louis waiting for him to come out of the shower.
And there were about a dozen or more reporters there.
And these are open stalls.
And on his top shelf he's got a picture of his son, and there's also this bottle of something I didn't know.
And I wrote down the name of it and I just in my notes spelled out Androstenedione.
NARRATOR: Androstenedione was marketed as a nutritional supplement.
Because it raised testosterone levels, it would eventually be classified as an anabolic steroid.
But thanks to government deregulation, it was sold over the counter.
VERDUCCI: I remember thinking how do you spell Androstenedione.
We knew nothing about something, a drug like that.
It was very new on the radar.
And I remember looking it up and not really understanding what the heck is this?
I can't say there was a complete surprise.
There had been rumors out there.
And, of course, McGwire denied it, said he knew nothing about it.
But this was something tangible.
This was a bottle of something in that locker.
Something that should have made us question a little deeper, what does it do and what is going on outside of just that one locker, because certainly he couldn't be the only person?
NARRATOR: Andro, as it was called, had already been banned by the National Football League and International Olympic Committee, and General Nutrition Centers had pulled it from their shelves 2 months earlier.
But Major League Baseball said they didn't know anything about it, and had no rule against its use.
In Milwaukee, Bud Selig visited his local drug store in search of the supplement.
SELIG: I went to our pharmacy in Milwaukee.
The pharmacist yelled, "Right over there, commissioner."
I said, "How do you know why I'm here?"
He said, "I can read the paper, too."
And he said, "It's legal.
You can buy it."
I said, "What is it?
I never heard of it."
BRYANT: When this happened, I said, "Oh, boy.
"The whole home run chase has been tainted now.
It's been ruined."
And the exact opposite happened.
What happened was, was that Steve Wilstein actually turned into the bad guy.
He became the villain.
And it was an example of how powerful the baseball machine could be.
And when I say machine, I mean the writers as well when they wanted to crush a story.
Instead of being introspective and instead of being investigative, instead of looking at this as a moment to consider steroids as a possibility for some of the offense in baseball, the response instead was to vilify Steve completely unfairly.
Tony La Russa said he should be banned from the clubhouse for life.
And he didn't have a lot of allies in the press, either.
WILSTEIN: The idea was, shoot the messenger.
There was certainly not a--an embracing of the issue that we have a problem and we need to solve this problem.
There was no sense in baseball that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
We need to look further to see who else is using performance enhancing drugs.
If anything, it was more bury-- bury our heads in the sand and maybe it'll go away.
NARRATOR: A columnist for the "Boston Globe" insisted, "There's nothing sold in drugstores that can help you hit a home run in the big leagues."
Andro, he wrote, was not that different from aspirin, prime rib, coffee, or Wheaties-- and McGwire was just the victim of an unfair, "tabloid-driven controversy."
WILSTEIN: I don't think he was just taking Andro.
I think Andro was one of many drugs that he was probably taking for a long period of time.
And just a couple of weeks earlier, Randy Barnes, the gold medalist shot putter for the United States, was banned for life for using Androstenedione.
And here was McGwire being praised as the hero of the country using the exact same thing.
It wasn't something that I was getting on McGwire about.
It was, it's just that it was seen outside of baseball as cheating and dangerous.
And so why was baseball doing this?
HOENIG: That's the beginning of when you start thinking "What are we gonna do about this?"
But you're sort of contradicting your own desire in a funny kind of way, not only professional but--but personal.
On the one hand, you think, "Gee, I should find out about this."
On the other hand you're thinking, "Do I really wanna find out about this?"
I mean, I'm not here to tear sports down for fans.
I'm here to make sports joyous for fans.
And so you're living in that contradiction.
NARRATOR: McGwire himself was unapologetic.
"Everybody that I know in the game of baseball uses the same stuff I use," he said.
"If somebody tells me that it's illegal and I shouldn't be taking it, I will stop."
Sales of Andro exploded.
Fans and other players seemed unconcerned.
McGwire and Sosa continued hitting home runs at a record-breaking clip.
The controversy faded away.
By early September, Sosa had hit 58 home runs; McGwire had equaled Babe Ruth's old record of 60.
The Cubs arrived in St. Louis for a 2-game series, and despite the scandal in Washington, baseball was all anybody could talk about.
Scalpers charged $400 for box seats, even more for the left field bleachers, where they expected each historic shot to land.
There were rumors that a record-breaking ball might sell for as much as a million dollars.
Roger Maris was no longer living, but his 2 daughters and 4 sons were in the stands.
So were Commissioner Bud Selig and Cardinal great Stan Musial.
The pack of reporters that had been trailing each slugger for weeks crowded into Busch Stadium, ready to provide moment to moment coverage.
In the Dominican Republic, millions gathered around television sets and radios to follow Sosa's at-bats.
The streets were as empty, one fan said, "as when the Government decrees a curfew."
On September 7, McGwire went right to work.
ANNOUNCER: That ball is gone if it's fair.
It is...a home run!
He has tied Maris.
[Crowd cheering] NARRATOR: The next night, McGwire came to the plate with 2 outs in the fourth inning.
ANNOUNCER: Down the left field line.
Is it enough?
There it is!
Touch first, Mark.
You are the new single season home run king.
NARRATOR: Roger Maris had needed all 162 games of the 1961 season to break Babe Ruth's record.
It took McGwire only 145.
COSTAS: St. Louis is a tremendous baseball town where, as someone put it, you get this combination of passion and civility you don't find many other places.
This is the place where they gave Sosa a standing ovation on the weekend when McGwire broke the record.
McGwire and Sosa embrace.
A kid, a groundskeeper, comes up with the ball and in an era when everybody sells everything, the kid shows up on the field and his unscripted line is: "Mr. McGwire, I have something that belongs to you."
Roger Maris's family there, McGwire could not have been more gracious.
Now, if some of that doesn't touch your heart, you shouldn't be a baseball fan.
And because of all that, a lot of us said... something here, wait a minute.
He hit 62 home runs in 440 at-bats?
Ruth hits 60 in 540?
Maris hits 61 in 590?
It's a little fishy, but...OK, OK. NARRATOR: The race was not over yet-- there were still nearly 3 weeks to go.
Sammy Sosa passed Roger Maris on September 13, and the 2 sluggers entered the final weekend of the season tied at 65.
On Friday night in St. Louis, McGwire hit a 375-foot shot.
In Houston, Sosa blasted one that went 462 feet.
ANNOUNCER: Deep left field.
NARRATOR: On Saturday, McGwire slugged 2 more.
Sosa singled twice, leading the Cubs to a win, but he failed to hit another home run.
On the final day of the season, McGwire put the finishing touches on his historic year.
In the third inning, he hit his 69th home run.
ANNOUNCER: Historic number 69!
[Crowd cheering] NARRATOR: In the seventh, he came to the plate for the last time.
ANNOUNCER: First and third, 2 out.
Into left field!
How much more can you give us, Big Mac?
VERDUCCI: In his last 11 swings, he hits 5 home runs.
And on each one, we're looking at each other in the press box saying, "Do you believe this?"
I mean, it's very hard to hit a home run.
But it's very hard to do it when everybody expects you to hit one and yet he seemed to be doing it on cue.
NARRATOR: Sosa finished the season with 66 home runs.
He may have lost the contest with McGwire, but he had become a worldwide celebrity, and back home in the Dominican Republic, he was given a hero's welcome.
1998 had been Major League Baseball's best season ever.
McGwire and Sosa's accomplishments, wrote a reporter for the "New York Times," "were the equivalent of a large dose of Prozac, "temporarily lifting the country from depressing developments in the capital."
But one player remained decidedly unimpressed.
As far as he was concerned, far too much attention had been lavished on 2 pumped-up sluggers with far less talent than he had.
He had never aspired to break Roger Maris's record.
Instead, he had dreamed of becoming the greatest all-around player, and had set his sights on being the first to hit 400 home runs and steal 400 bases.
ANNOUNCER: That ball is drilled to deep right.
NARRATOR: On August 23, 1998, as the frenzy over the home run contest was nearing its climax, Barry Bonds had achieved that extraordinary feat.
But news of his accomplishment was relegated to the back of the sports pages.
ANNOUNCER: ...the only member.
Take a look.
He's a Hall of Famer.
NARRATOR: Frustrated that home runs were the only thing that mattered, he now resolved to do whatever it took to win the respect he thought he deserved.
BRYANT: The bottom line with Barry was he watched Sosa and he watched McGwire and he saw the adulation that they got in 1998.
He saw them getting credit for rebuilding the game coming out of the strike when he knew he was twice the player of either one of them.
And when he decided to balance the scales, now we really saw something remarkable.