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Nov. 7 2009 - 8:57 pm | 52 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

Did Baseball’s Sammy Sosa Do Some Racial Switch-Hitting?

This file photo taken on March 17, 2005 shows ...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

 LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 04: Former baseball player Sammy Sosa (R) and guest arrives at the 2009 Person Of The Year Honoring Juan Gabriel held at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on November 4, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 04: Former baseball player Sammy Sosa (R) and his wife arrive at the 2009 Person Of The Year Honoring Juan Gabriel held at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on November 4, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Retired baseball slugger Sammy Sosa has caused quite a stir stemming from his recent appearance at an awards ceremony.  Sosa’s skin tone, which for most of his life had been a chocolate shade of brown, has morphed into almost  a Michael Jackson-like, shade of pale.

The Dominican Republic native left the major leagues in 2008, after playing 18 years.  During his career, Sosa hit 609 home runs, elevating him to being one of the game’s all-time leaders in round-trippers.

That slugging history has been severely tainted by revelations that he used performance-enhancing steroids while playing in the big leagues.

Could his steroid use have altered his complexion?  Perhaps.

According to the website, medicinenet.com, with regard to possible side effects from anabolic steroid use:

Notify your doctor if you develop: vomiting, skin color changes…

Obviously, it would be a shame if Sammy Sosa’s alleged abuse of steroids may have led to his new coloring. However, those familiar with attitudes related to race in the Dominican Republic, would understand how he may have become a mental victim to the cultural norms of a Caribbean island, infamously known for marginalizing its darker inhabitants.

There are skin-bleaching procedures that Sosa may have used to lighten his skin.  In a society where people casual cruise tanning salons, adjusting one’s skin shade is fairly common.  Yet, Sosa seems to have changed more than a shade or two (or three…).  If purposefully done (his hair texture and eye color have also been visibly revised..), he’s sought out to erase any physical connection he’s had, to what were once his African-descended features.  To think that, during his 1998 battle with Mark McGwire for Roger Maris’ single season home run record, I’d hear some African-American women refer to Sosa as “fine.”

For Sammy Sosa, this might be one helluva game-changer.


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  1. collapse expand

    My God, Sosa looks like he just stepped out of the coffin at his own wake.

  2. collapse expand

    Sosa looks totally different; I wouldn’t have known it was him!

  3. collapse expand

    Hell, Bill, it aint THAT cold in Chicago during the summer. And he never stayed in town past October (not that there was ever any reason to).

    Maybe the change is due to an extremely, extremely, extremely late physical reaction to shame, blanching at the idea that he pretended not to understand English in front of the Senate committee.

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    Bill Stephney, head of Joseph Media, has previously run music companies Def Jam Recordings, SOUL Records and Stepsun Music. He has produced artists ranging from Public Enemy to Vanessa Williams and social satirist Paul Mooney. He has supervised music for films such as “Boomerang,” “Be Be’s Kids,” “CB4,” “Clockers” and “Shaft.” In 2006, he was elected to Minority Media & Telecommunications Hall of Fame. Currently, he is a featured essayist in the book “Be A Father To Your Child: Real Talk From Black Men On Family, Love and Fatherhood” (Soft Skull Press). Stephney also serves as a member in the state of New Jersey's division of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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