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Rangers celebrate Sosa on Saturday

Rangers celebrate Sosa on Saturday

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ARLINGTON -- The stars were out in Arlington to honor Sammy Sosa on Saturday.

It's not every day you see Dominican Republic baseball legends Juan Marichal and Rico Carty with Hollywood actor Vin Diesel.

But all three were present to congratulate Sosa on becoming the fifth man to hit 600 home runs in Major League history before the Rangers took on the Indians.

Diesel said he was surprised people couldn't understand why he was friends with Sosa, saying of the slugger: "He's my brother, he's my friend, we're really close."

Diesel said he plans to put Sosa in one of his upcoming movies. Diesel spends a lot of time in the Dominican Republic and bought Sosa's old house.

"I gave him a good deal, that's why he bought it," Sosa said with a grin.

Diesel introduced Sosa to the crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Sosa thanked his family, fellow countrymen and fans for the opportunity to "play the game I love so much."

On a joyous night for the Dominican Republic, nobody was more pleased than the former ballplayers Marichal and Carty.

"Sammy is a man we love and admire, we're very proud of him," Marichal said. "I'm the first and only [Dominican Republic] in the Hall of Fame, but I'm not going to be by myself for long. I'm waiting for Sammy to retire and wait for five years before he's in."

Carty said: "Sammy is something special to all of Dominican Republic. He used to strikeout a lot and I gave him advice one day. I told him to hit it to the opposite field. Nothing he does at the plate surprises me. He's great -- the best overall hitter from the D.R."

Sosa put his face on the Mount Rushmore of power hitters June 20 with a blast to right-center off Jason Marquis of the Cubs, his former team.

Carty, who lives in the Dominican Republic, said it was a crazy night when Sosa became the fifth player in history to reach the milestone.

Dominican vice president Rafael Alburquerque was also on hand to congratulate Sosa, along with five senators.

"President [Leonel Fernandez] can't come because he's got a big deal and Bill Clinton is over there [in the Dominican]," Sosa said. "But, they sent the vice president, which is pretty good. It's nice because I'm proud coming from my country and representing my country among all those players, very fortunate and very proud."

Sosa was presented with a framed "600" jersey by teammate Michael Young. Reliever Akinori Otsuka, who caught Sosa's 600th home run in the Rangers bullpen, turned the ball over to Sosa.

Sosa had an exciting pregame celebration, but the game did not go according to plan. Indians starter Cliff Lee beaned Sosa in the head in the third inning, ending Sosa's night in an unfitting way. He was removed for precautionary measures and examined by the Rangers medical staff, who deemed no trip to the hospital was necessary. He is day-to-day.

Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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