Mariners Insider

McGwire’s Comeback: We’ve all changed

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on Oct. 27, 2009 at 10:35 am with 7 Comments »
October 27, 2009 11:31 am

Was going though a closet this week and came across The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated from September, 1998.
McGwire cover
Mark McGwire was the cover story for both – and hero worship was the order of the day. SI’s headline was ‘The Record: What it means to Mark McGwire – and to America’. The Sporting News simply shouted ‘Hero!’ in huge type.

Since then, the world has piled on McGwire, who faced the U.S. Senate and had the gall to say he wouldn’t talk about the past.

Other than that and Jose Canseco’s book, hard evidence has yet to be unearthed on McGwire and steroid use. Oh, he was quick to acknowledge using Andro early on – but that was when Andro was available at Walmart.

As for me, I found McGwire always to be thoughtful and candid, and after the World Series game in which Kirk Gibson beat Oakland with that home run, I sought him ought in the Athletics clubhouse.

“That’s why we all love baseball,” he said. “Imagine what that must have been like, dreaming of playing in a World Series, hitting the game-winning hom run – then actually doing it. Man, that was a great moment.”

And McGwire’s team had lost that game.

McGwire was one of those players who loved baseball and felt fortunate to play it for a living. And I’ll confess it here: I liked him immensely, and still do.

Each December when the Hall of Fame ballots arrive, I’ve voted for McGwire. Do I know he’s innocent? No. Nor do I know he’s not.

And now he’s the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Good. His return won’t be greeted with the over-the-top joy that his home run record was, but neither he nor we are he same as we were in ’98.

Baseball has lost its innocence in the interim. We have turned away, with much justification, from players we once cheered – Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds.

McGwire is coming back not as a star but a coach, and the money he has in the ank will earn more in interest next year than what his St. Louis salary will pay him. It’s not about money. It’s not about climbing back in the spotlight.

It’s about baseball. I’m glad to see Mark McGwire back in the game.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. dave8557 says:

    I don’t think we need Mark McGwire back in the game. I think Larussa is doing this as some kind of publicity stunt in which he’s told McGwire to come back and try to clear his name by talking to the press as he visits each NL city. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. He’ll create a media circus in each city and detract from the Cardinals that’s for sure.

  2. Pray4Peace says:

    I was very naive at the time when he and the others were on a tear, hitting all those home runs. I just thought to myself that it had to be because of expansion teams and the quality of pitching or the balls were being made differently or the bats. I never imagined juicing. After all the BS settled down and I saw the skeleton of a man Mc had become, how small Sosa shrunk, I realized just how bad I had been duped.

    You’re absolutely right, Larry. Mark McGwire the man, is very likable and a nice guy who loves the game as much as we do. But he cheated. Him, Bonds, Sosa, Clemens and all the rest, couldn’t have accomplished what they did without cheating. Without those doped up numbers they would never be considered Hall of Fame material. I have more respect for Pete Rose though.

    I am glad he’s back in the game. He can teach the kids a valuable lesson about cheating.

  3. Pray4Peace says:

    I wasn’t very clear with that last sentence. (Not enough coffee yet)

    What I meant to say was I am glad Mark is back in the game.

  4. rightwingrick says:

    I guess if you ignore the blatantly obvious, you don’t know McGuire is guilty. Me, I think he cheated his way to history, and it makes me angry that guys like Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, who had to overcome every kind of obstacle to succeed we can imagine, are somehow diminished by the cheating and shortcutting of others.

    Hall of Fame for McGuire? No way, no how.

  5. maryparker says:

    I always thought “Big Mac” was a decent person and I still do. Unlike ARoid, he didn’t try to wring every possible $$ out of the game. If I had a vote, I would vote for him too. I remember sitting in the Kingdome waiting for the Mariners’ game to start when they showed him hitting, I think it was his 62nd home run and grabbing his son in the air and going to Roger Maris family box. I don’t think Roger Maris was ever given the respect he deserved and
    Big Mac gave his memory all of the respect it deserves

  6. oldcenturian says:

    Nice, thoughtful piece, Mr. Larue. Mark McGwire’s return to the Cards as a hitting coach has nothing to do with election to the Hall of Fame, and everything to do with personal redemption. Thanks for sharing your personal insights into his character.

  7. Pray4Peace says:

    Being a decent person doesn’t qualify someone for the Hall Of Fame.

    If a bowler bowls 3 consecutive 300 games and breaks records but it’s found out someone was back there knocking down pins for him, can they still keep the record and go the Bowlers Hall Of Fame? Or a boxer with brass knuckles in his gloves? The same question for golfers or any other sport?

    No, they can’t. They’re cheaters. Plain and simple.

    I like Mark McGwire. As a person he is a likable, nice man. I’m very happy to see him back in the game. But he never would have broken Mickey’s home run record if he hadn’t cheated. Bonds wouldn’t have broken Aaron’s record if he hadn’t cheated. Sosa wouldn’t be in the 600 club if he hadn’t cheated.

    To give any of these guys any kind of recognition for anything they appear to have accomplished is tarnishing the memories of those who have proudly EARNED those records.

    Pete Rose may have bet on baseball while a player and a manager. That’s not right because it’s against the rules. As far as I know, he never cheated. He deserves to be in the Hall much more than those other men.

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