Mark McGwire Breaks Roger Maris' Single-Season Home Run Record

There was much media speculation as to where Maris’ HR record would be broken in 1998, and a debate as to who would break it, Ken Griffey, Jr. or McGwire.

As the 1998 season progressed, it became clear that McGwire, Griffey, and Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa were all on track to break Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. The race to break the record first became a media spectacle as the lead swung back and forth. On September 8, 1998 at 8:18 p.m. et, McGwire hit a pitch by the Chicago Cubs’ Steve Trachsel over the left field wall for his record-breaking 62nd home run, setting off huge celebrations at Busch Stadium. McGwire finished the 1998 season with 70 home runs, four ahead of Sosa’s 66.

September 8, 1998, in a game against Sosa's Cubs and with members of the Maris family in attendance, McGwire hit Steve Trachsel's pitch 341 feet - his shortest home run of the season - just over the left field wall, breaking the record for the most home runs ever hit in a single season. The ball did not even make it to the stands, and the crew member who found it later gave the ball to McGwire.

Afterwards, however, McGwire went six consecutive games without a home run, allowing Sosa to tie him again at 62 after hitting four home runs in three games against the Milwaukee Brewers. The two battled back and forth for the lead, and entering the final series of the season on September 25, were tied at 65 home runs. Sosa hit a 462 foot home run off Houston Astros pitcher Jose Lima for his 66th home run of the season. McGwire, however, while the Cardinals hosted the Montreal Expos, hit five home runs against five different pitchers, setting the record at 70 with a 370 foot home run off Carl Pavano.