Getting a bit nostalgic lately, as I think back to a decade ago. Ten years ago marked America’s Summer of Falling Back in Love with Major League Baseball.
That’s the year Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated fans–and recaptured many who had grown disillusioned by the 1994 strike that deep-sixed the season in mid-August. At the time, I was a reporter for The Courier News in Elgin, some 40 miles west of Chicago, with a side column called “By the Numbers.” The column was all the excuse I needed to research 80 years of baseball’s most fearsome sluggers’ statistics.
Along the way, I invented a stat, which I dubbed the Home Run Power Ratio. It’s an inflation index for homers so you can compare players from various generations by objectively gauging how they fared against their peers.
I wrote various pieces on the HRPR, including one for a grand baseball publication called The Elysian Fields Quarterly.
My true grand-slam moment, though, came at the end of the 1999 season, when Sports Illustrated, the magazine I’d dreamt of writing for since I began subscribing as a 10-year-old in 1978, published a brief piece on the HRPR. That’s the clip you see on the left.
In recent years, the romance with America’s Pastime has been tarnished, a sense of betrayal having set in after we discovered that everyone but the batboy, seemingly, was using steroids to swing for the fences.
But it sure was fun when we were in the midst of it, huh?