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Sammy Sosa Named NL MVP


[Nov. 19]
Sammy Sosa
was voted the National League Most Valuable Player Thursday in a landslide over Mark McGwire, his rival in the most memorable home run chase ever.

Sosa, who finished second to McGwire with 66 homers, got 30 of 32 first-place votes and 438 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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  • "I would have voted for Mark," Sosa said from Chicago during a telephone conference call. "In my heart, Mark McGwire is still the man for me."

    McGwire, who set the record with 70 homers, got the other two first-place votes and 272 points. Two sports writers for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch both voted for McGwire and listed Sosa second.

    "It's hard to hit 70 home runs and not win MVP," Sosa said. "I was never so sure to myself that I had it until today."

    While Sosa was first or second on every ballot, McGwire got 20 seconds, three thirds, one fourth, four fifths, one sixth and one seventh.

    Sosa, given a hero's welcome when he returned to his native San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic last month, created a historic Latin American sweep. Texas' Juan Gonzalez, who is Puerto Rican, won the AL MVP on Wednesday.

    Sammy Sosa received 30 of 32 first place votes in winning the NL MVP. (AP)

    Sosa, a former teammate of Gonzalez in the Rangers minor-league system, is the second Dominican to win an MVP, joining George Bell (1987). Sosa intends to return home Friday to resume his relief efforts following the damage caused by Hurricane Georges.

    "What happened in my country was tough," said Sosa, whose charitable foundation is distributing food.

    Sosa hit .308 with a major league-leading 158 RBIs -- one more than Gonzalez -- as Chicago reached the postseason for the first time since 1989. He also led the majors with 132 runs and 414 total bases.

    McGwire, who smashed Roger Maris' previous home run mark of 61, finished with 147 RBI and a .299 average as the Cardinals stumbled to a third-place finish in the NL Central, 19 games behind Houston and seven behind the wild-card Cubs. McGwire led the majors in walks (162), slugging percentage (.752) and on-base percentage (.470).

    "My reputation outside the field, that counts a lot," Sosa said. "Maybe people took it from there."

    Even St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa thought Sosa had the edge when it came to MVP voting.

    Voting breakdown
    Player Team 1
    2
    3
    Total
    1. Sammy Sosa Chicago
    30
    2
    --
    438
    2. Mark McGwire St. Louis
    2
    20
    3
    272
    3. Moises Alou Houston
    --
    6
    8
    215
    4. Greg Vaughn San Diego
    --
    --
    7
    185
    5. Craig Biggio Houston
    --
    3
    5
    163
    6. Andres Galarraga Atlanta
    --
    --
    1
    147
    7. Trevor Hoffman San Diego
    --
    --
    5
    117
    8. Barry Bonds San Fran
    --
    1
    --
    66
    9. Chipper Jones Atlanta
    --
    --
    2
    56
    10. Jeff Kent San Fran
    --
    --
    1
    56
    (Voting done on a 14-9-8-7-etc. basis)

    "I'm so biased it's ridiculous, but I think Sammy deserves it," he during the season's final week. "I don't think he's done more for his team than Mark has, but his team has done more than ours has, so his contribution counts for a little more in my book. Just barely, but that's who I would give it to."

    Sosa, who was in Japan for the major league all-star tour, returned to Chicago for the announcement. McGwire, who remained on vacation in Australia, said late in the season a team's finish shouldn't be taken into account.

    "It should be the guy who has the best overall year, no matter if his team is in last place or first place," he said.

    Houston's Moises Alou was third with 215 points, followed by San Diego's Greg Vaughn who hit 50 homers and wound up with 185 points. Houston's Craig Biggio was fifth with 163 points, followed by Atlanta's Andres Galarraga (147), San Diego's Trevor Hoffman (117) and San Francisco's Barry Bonds (66).

    Sosa gets a $250,000 bonus fowinning. Galarraga gets a $100,000 bonus and Alou gets $10,000. It was the eighth time a Cubs player won the MVP, the first since Andre Dawson in 1987.

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