Summer of '98

Summer of '98

When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America

By Mike Lupica

Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399145148, 209pp.

Publication Date: April 5, 1999

In the summer of '61, Mike Lupica's father left notes for him in the night: Maris hit another, Mantle two-for-four, Yanks won. That was his first golden summer. He thought there'd never be another one like it -- until the summer of '98, when he found himself leaving notes for his own sons: Sosa hit another, McGwire hit one back. And the Yanks won.

In 1998, the conversation of the country was about baseball again, as the taste of the 1994 strike was finally washed away in a sweet flood of glory. With humor and feeling, Lupica recaptures that season, but not in any ordinary way. In Fargo, North Dakota, Roger Maris's boyhood best friend watches McGwire hit 62. In Washington Heights, New York City, the scout who saw Sammy Sosa get off the bus from Santo Domingo celebrates, along with half a million Dominicans. The Little League champions from Toms River stand in awe on the field at Yankee Stadium; Joe DiMaggio talks as he watches the Yankees have the kind of year he always had; Cal Ripken speaks from the past about how he always intended his streak to end; a divorced father watches with a lump in his throat as McGwire lifts his son at home plate. David Wells, Kerry Wood, Shane Spencer, Ken Griffey, Jr. -- all the boys of summer come alive in unique and special ways, as we're reminded, for one season at least, that, yes, they do play baseball like they used to.