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Sammy Sosa: 1968—: Professional Baseball Player

From Poverty To Professional Athletics

Born on November 12, 1968, in San Pedro de Macoris on the southeastern shore of the Dominican Republic, Sosa is the son of farmer Juan Montero and housewife Lucrecia Sosa. After his father's sudden death from a brain aneurysm in 1975, Sammy, his two sisters and four brothers, and their mother lived in a two-bedroom apartment in an abandoned hospital. Sosa earned dimes by selling oranges on the street and shined shoes for a quarter a pair. He shifted to washing cars for cash and later found steady work as the janitor at a shoe factory.

Playtime found Sosa embroiled in neighborhood boxing matches and makeshift baseball games with a stick for a bat, a milk carton for a glove, and a rolled-up sock for a ball. At age 14, he was thin and gangly, but he demonstrated raw talent at baseball after his brother Juan encouraged him to learn the game and polish his skills. In 1983, Sosa signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but had to vacate the contract because he was underage. At age 16, he cagily negotiated with scout Omar Minaya for a contract and a $3,500 signing bonus with the Texas Rangers. Sosa kept enough cash to buy his first bicycle and gave the remainder to his mother. His generosity to her and his siblings set a pattern over his extraordinarily lucrative career.

In 1986 Sosa traveled to winter training camp in Sarasota, Florida, his introduction to life and sports in the United States. Although he spoke no English, his career flourished immediately as he led the Gulf Coast League in doubles. He came to treasure American freedoms and prosperity enough to request formal immigration papers and to begin the long process of applying for U. S. citizenship.

At a Glance . . .

Born Samuel Sosa Peralta on November 12, 1968, in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic; married Sonia; children: Keysha, Kenia, Sammy Jr., and Michael.

Career: Drafted at age 16 by the Texas Rangers; began professional baseball career in the Gulf Coast League for rookies, 1986; traded from the Rangers to the Chicago White Sox, 1989-92; traded to the Chicago Cubs, 1992-.

Awards: South Atlantic League All-Star, 1987; Member of the National League All-Star team, 1995, 1998 ; named outfielder on the Sporting News National League Silver Slugger team, 1995; Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award, 1998; Roberto Clemente award for outstanding service to the community, 1998; Sporting News player of the year, 1998; Baseball Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award, 1998; named National League most valuable player by Baseball Writers Association of America, 1998; Gene Autry Courage Award, 1998; Sports Illustrated Co-Sportsman of the Year, 1998.

Addresses: Home—San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic; Office—Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison Street, Chicago, IL 60613-4397.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Nate Smith Biography - Fought His Way into the Union to Theodosius II BiographySammy Sosa: 1968—: Professional Baseball Player Biography - From Poverty To Professional Athletics, Stardom Amid Frustrations, Glory Days With The Cubs, A Spectacular Season