<h1> Mark McGwire admitted to steroid use today. </h1>
McGwire was one of my boyhood heroes.
My friends and I played baseball from sunrise to sundown and sometimes into the dark. W played in the heat. We sometimes played in snow. We played until our parents said it was time to stop. Most of the time when I hit the ball over whatever version of “the fence” we were using… I envisioned McGwire.
The 1987 Topp’s Mark McGwire card… looks nothing like the man I watched on August 30, 1998 in St. Louis. We sat in the left center field bleachers and hoped to catch a home-run ball. McGwire hit one directly toward us… only the ball was still 100 feet in the air as it sailed OVER us. This was the 9th longest homerun in McGwire’s career at 501 feet! I was there. It was impressive to the point of being chilling. I have seen a LOT of baseballs hit, and been to many major league games… but this was different. Had there been no upper deck for the ball to hit… it could have flown farther. With a roll on grass… I am convinced this ball would have traveled more than 600 feet with flight + roll.
The Cardinals were ”my team” growing up in Missouri. He came to the Cardinals from the Oakland A’s on July 31st… my birthday.
Simply stated… Mark was a hero, and an idol to this baseball nut.
How could he not be? Every young baseball player wants to hit the ball out of the park. And I watched this man hit the ball more than 500 feet!
I forgive you Mark. I say this because you confessed to what you did. It was the honorable thing to do. Sooner would have been better, but only because the burden of carrying this with you must have been painful.
I looked up to you as a child and as a young man. When you refused to say aloud what we already knew… it was heartbreaking. To watch such an amazing man do what you could… and then see you broken down and nearly in tears refusing to tell the truth that was so obviously forcing itself toward your lips… was saddening.
Mark cheated baseball… and other players… and the history of the game. And as trite as this sounds, Mark Cheated himself. As a 6’5” 215 pound rookie… Mark hit 49 homeruns in 1986. It is unlikely that he was taking steroids at that time(from looking at his thin frame). In 1998 when I sat in the stands watching him hit a baseball like a 5 iron to a golf ball… he was close to 300 pounds of muscle. What Mark will never know, is how well he could have done without that poison. Mark will never know if he could have played more years, rather than breaking down in his early 30s from years of Steroid use.
In 1987… I remember holding my Mark McGwire Topp’s rookie card… and wondering how much it could be worth in 10 years! It seemed like forever. I still have that card today. And it’s worth far more than the $100 that I dreamed the card might fetch in the future, but certainly not in dollars. It’s a part of my history. It reminds me of who I was then, and how baseball was a big part of my childhood. How fast 23 years have passed for me. While Mark McGwire and I have very little in common… I can imagine him looking at that same card… and thinking the same thing.
Mark McGwire is not the greatest homerun hitter in history. He is part of baseball history for certain. But, his name does not belong above Roger Marris, or Hank Aaron.
Before we place a scarlet letter on McGwire… remember that he was absolutely not the only person doing this. And consider that athletes aren’t the only ones who take this poison. There are actors and models who take steroids. There are even musicians suspected of taking steroids. These individuals do it for the image.
Mark has been punished. He has been disgraced publicly… and his name will never be in the Hall of Fame. I am OK with that punishment. To know that the man in my 1987 baseball card… became the same man who sat in front of a congressional panel nearly in tears saying… “I’m not here to talk about the past”… is a long fall.
Good luck with your new career as a hitting coach Mark.