The year 1998 was the one when major league baseball was reborn. The labor difficulties of a few years earlier had soured the fans; many of them simply put the game aside and established other recreational priorities. However, when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa both launched credible assaults on the record of 61 homers set by Roger Maris in 1961, the entire country was transfixed by their exploits. What they had done that day was always a story in the sports section of the local broadcast news every night, even when they had an off day.
Both men had the advantage that they were very likable, even if you were a fan of the opposing team, you had to root for Mark and Sammy when they stepped to the plate. Fans came to their games in record numbers and when the season was over, McGuire had hit an incredible 70 homeruns and Sosa was not far behind with 66. Layden captures the likable qualities of these two men, humble in greatness, a rare commodity in the modern world of athletics.
This story, written at the level of the late elementary school student, will capture the interest of the young sports fan. It was a magical and rejuvenating year for major league baseball and Layden writes as a true baseball fan, just the right amount of fact interspersed with the appropriate level of hype.