Long Gone Summer looks back on the most famous season of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s career. It also addresses their steroid use. See what they had to say.
Any discussion of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s record-setting 1998 home run race will naturally raise questions about their connections to steroids and PEDs. The two sluggers appeared before congress, along with other MLB figures, to be questioned on the topic in 2005. McGwire has since come clean, while Sosa has never admitted to it despite reportedly testing positive during a voluntary test in 2003.
Long Gone Summer director AJ Schnack told FanSided’s Mark Carman that he always knew it was something they had to address in his new film.
“I told them both upfront that we were going to have to deal with it,” Schnack said. “That people wouldn’t take the film seriously if we didn’t address that aspect and the fact that this event took place during the steroid era.
“I think it’s very different between the two of them. Mark has I think spoken honestly about what he did, why he did it, when he did it. Sammy feels that he has stated for the record in front of congress that he never did it and I think he finds the ongoing questioning a little disrespectful I think to him and his career. I think just the fact that he has to discuss it is a bit annoying.
“I thought his answers in the film were illuminating to me. I had never heard him talk about it in that particular way before, which makes clear that there were a lot of players who were doing it but there’s been a lot of attention on these two guys to have something specific to say about it.”
So now that Long Gone Summer has premiered, how did the two sluggers address it?
What Mark McGwire says about steroids in Long Gone Summer
McGwire eventually became more open about his steroid use and answers somewhat straightforwardly in the film, despite not being pushed on any details.
“First of all, stupid to do, paid the consequences, still do,” McGwire said. “But there was no regulation back in those days, nobody ever talked about anything like this was against– there was no rules, there was no regulations.
“So it was only brought up to my attention that it would help through some injuries. So that’s really the basis. By no means did I need to do it for strength purposes. I don’t regret doing it. The bottom line is if there was drug testing back then it would never happen, that would have never happened.
“I don’t encourage, I don’t want anybody ever to follow any footsteps like that, but it just sort of sucked.”
What Sammy Sosa says about steroids in Long Gone Summer
Sosa on the other hand has always maintained his innocence, despite the leaked positive test. Sosa’s connections to steroids are assumed to be part of the reason that he has not been welcomed back to Wrigley Field and honored by the current Cubs ownership in any way.
When asked by the director about the club seeming to want him to come clean, Sosa responds, “Why do they [care] about me when pretty much everybody in that era did it?”
He adds: “I’m a very happy person, my friend. I’m good. I’m happy.”
Schnack presses on, asking whether he feels more pressure to say something about the issue.
“I ask you once again,” Sosa says “In that (New York Times) list was about 106 players. There is about four or five, maybe more than that in the Hall of Fame. So, you figure out. So I am the one to blame?”
For his part, the director said he didn’t lay all the blame with the players either.
“We’ll never truly know who all was using it, who wasn’t, and clearly baseball didn’t do a good job at the time of indicating – I don’t think a memo is enough – to tell people ‘No we don’t want you to do this’ if there’s no penalty, no testing, no anything,” Schnack said. “It’s a tough time period in baseball to wrestle with. What we tried to do is just acknowledge a couple of the other things that were going on, which is the way in which the makeup of players in general changed in the 90s.”
Schnack said he tried and failed to get former MLB commissioner Bud Selig to speak about the era.
“Bud was a no. Bud did not want to participate,” Schnack said. “We asked. Would have loved to have gotten his perspective on it. He was not interested in revisiting that time period that helped get him in the Hall of Fame.”