Sammy Sosa's 60th was a long time coming. History was waiting for the Chicago Cubs star and he knew it.
So for more than a week, he labored, felt the expectations of both himself and those scrutinizing his every swing.
That's why, when he finally became the first player in major league history to reach 60 homers twice, the relief was obvious.
"I was getting a bit anxious up there, a little out of control, swinging at everything because everybody was waiting for this moment," Sosa said today after hitting his 60th off Milwaukee's Jason Bere in what turned out to be another loss for the Cubs, 7-4 in 14 innings.
"I wanted to get it done and that's why I was out of control. Now I can relax," Sosa said.
Sosa, who hit 66 homers last season, only to fall four short of Mark McGwire, said reaching 60 again is more satisfying.
"Of all the players that have played this game, for me to be the first one, I'm proud," Sosa said.
"Pretty much last year, when I hit 62, Mark was already the first guy there, and that was the record everybody was looking for. This year to be the first to reach 60, I have to say I enjoy this one a little more."
Sosa's historic homer came on a 2-2 pitch in the sixth, a drive that just went over the wall in center field and produced an ovation that lasted several minutes. Included in the crowd were his wife, his mother and his son, Michael, who was celebrating his second birthday.
Sosa crossed the plate and pointed to the sky and then went to the dugout and was hugged by teammate Glenallen Hill.
Moments later, he emerged from the dugout for a curtain call and blew his trademark kisses to the crowd that had come to see one thing--Sosa end a home drought and make the history books.
Bere allowed Sosa's 56th homer last season while pitching for the Reds.
"Last year I was 56; now I'm 60," Bere said. "Good for him. It's a pretty big accomplishment."
Brewers Manager Jim Lefebvre once managed Sosa with the Cubs.
"He's one of the game's real treasures," Lefebvre said. "He's done something nobody before has done. Nobody has worked harder than Sammy to get where he is."
Sosa had gone seven games and 33 at-bats without a homer since Sept. 9 and there was little doubt he was pressing. But he picked on his favorite pitching staff to end the skid. He has five homers against the Brewers this season after hitting 12 off Milwaukee a year ago.
After his homer, Sosa, who once sold oranges and shined shoes in his beloved homeland, held up a sign to the TV camera: "I Love You Dominican Republic."
He got another standing ovation when he went to right field for the seventh, doffing his cap and waving to the fans.
"SAM-MEE! SAM-MEE" they chanted. Sosa, who salutes the fans when he takes his position before every home game, again took his cap and recognized the ovation.
In the 10th inning, a fan went on the field and went up to Sosa and shook his hand.
Babe Ruth had come the closest to two 60-homer seasons. He hit 59 in 1921 and became the first to reach the mark in 1927, when he finished with 60 in a 154-game season.
Roger Maris hit 61 homers in a 162-game season in 1961. No one else reached 60 until last year, when McGwire and then Sosa staged their friendly but spirited competition, with McGwire pulling away on the final weekend of last season.
This season, Sosa leads McGwire by four and they'll go head-to-head six times in the final two weeks, beginning Monday when Chicago and the St. Louis Cardinals open a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
Can Sosa reach 70, or even 71, with two weeks left?
"I was getting anxious trying for 60, and now you want 11 more?" he said with a laugh.
Sosa hit No. 60 in his 148th game this season. Last year he connected for his 60th in the 149th game. That also came off a Milwaukee pitcher, Valerio De Los Santos.
Milwaukee won the game in the 14th on Ron Belliard's homer off Mark Guthrie before Brian Banks added a two-run triple. Kyle Peterson (2-6) got the win with three innings of relief.
Sosa popped out and struck out before homering in his third at-bat. When he came to the plate for the fourth time in the seventh, Milwaukee's Hector Ramirez buzzed a pitch inside and sent Sosa sprawling to the dirt, prompting loud booing from a crowd announced at 39,304. Sosa then worked a walk, and the Cubs went on to score the tying run on Shane Andrews's bases-loaded infield single.
With Mark Grace at first, Sosa singled off Bob Wickman to put runners at first and third with no outs. Wickman struck out Henry Rodriguez and got Andrews on a shallow flyout but walked Hill and Lance Johnson, forcing in the tying run.
Jeff Reed struck out, ending the inning, but Wickman and Lefebvre were ejected by plate umpire Greg Gibson after Wickman said something to Gibson as he left the field.