Mark McGwire

Mark McGwire

[muh-gwahyuhr]
Mark David McGwire (born October 1, 1963 in Pomona, California) is a former professional baseball player who played the majority of his Major League career with the Oakland Athletics before finishing his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

For his career, McGwire averaged a home run once every 10.61 at bats, the lowest at bats per home run ratio in baseball history (Babe Ruth is second at 11.76). In 1987, he broke the single-season home run record for rookies, with 49. In 1998, McGwire broke the single-season home run record by hitting 70. His achievement has since been thought to be a result of illegal steroid use. His mark was surpassed by Barry Bonds who hit 73 in 2001.

Biography

Oakland Athletics career

McGwire began his major league career with the Oakland A's in 1986, and he played there until late in the 1997 season. With teammate José Canseco, he was one half of "The Bash Brothers." Their offensive output helped to propel Oakland to three consecutive American League Championships from 1988-1990. McGwire and the A's won the 1989 World Series. Early in his career, a stretch of hitting bases-empty home runs earned McGwire the derisive nickname "Marco Solo.

McGwire worked hard on his defense at first base and resisted being seen as a one-dimensional player. He was regarded as a good fielder in his early years, even winning a Gold Glove in 1990. In later years his mobility was reduced, and his defense declined as a result.

McGwire's total of 363 home runs with the Athletics is that franchise's record. He was selected or voted to nine American League All-Star Teams while playing for the A's, including six consecutive appearances from 1987 through 1992.

1987–1991

In his first full Major League season in 1987, he hit 49 home runs, a single-season record for a rookie; he was named the American League Rookie of the Year. McGwire hit 32, 33, and 39 homers the next three seasons, the first Major Leaguer to hit 30+ home runs in each of his first 4 full seasons. On July 3 and 4, 1988, McGwire hit game-winning home runs in the 16th inning of each game. But Mark McGwire's most famous home run with the A's was likely his game-winning solo shot in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1988 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and former A's closer Jay Howell. McGwire's game-winner brought the A's their only victory in the 1988 World Series, which they lost in five games. However, Big Mac and his fellow Bash Brother José Canseco did play a large part in the 1989 World Champion A's team that defeated the San Francisco Giants in the famous "Earthquake Series.

McGwire's batting average, .289 as a rookie, plummeted over the next three seasons to .260, .231, and .235, respectively. In 1991, he bottomed out with a .201 average and 22 homers. Manager Tony LaRussa sat him out the last game of the season so his average could not dip below .200. Despite the declining batting averages during this time of his career, his high bases on balls totals allowed him to maintain acceptable on-base percentages. In fact, when he hit .201, his adjusted OPS (OPS+) was 103, or just over league average.

McGwire stated in an interview with Sports Illustrated that 1991 was the "worst year" of his life, with his on-field performance and marriage difficulties, and that he "didn't lift a weight" that entire season. With all that behind him, McGwire re-dedicated himself to working out harder than ever and received visual therapy from a sports vision specialist.

1992–1997

He changed his clean-cut look and grew a mullet, a mustache, and a goatee to look more fearsome. The "new look" McGwire hit 42 homers and batted .268 in 1992, with an outstanding OPS+ of 175 (the highest of his career to that point), and put on a home run hitting show at the Home Run Derby during the 1992 All-Star break. His performance propelled the A's to the American League West Division title in 1992, their fourth in five seasons. The A's lost in the playoffs to the eventual World Series champion, the Toronto Blue Jays. Mark smashed a game winning homer in the 9th inning to win the game. But running the bases, hurt his foot.

Foot injuries limited McGwire to a total of 74 games in 1993 and 1994, and just 9 home runs in each of the two seasons. He played just 104 games in 1995, but his proportional totals were much improved: 39 home runs in 317 at-bats. In 1996, McGwire belted a major league leading 52 homers in 423 at-bats. He also hit a career high .312 average, and led the league in both slugging percentage and on base percentage.

St. Louis Cardinals and the HR record chase

In 1997, he hit a major league-leading 58 home runs for the season, but did not lead either league in homers, as he was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals on July 31, when he had hit 34 homers for the A's. It was widely believed that McGwire, in the last year of his contract, would play for the Cardinals only for the remainder of the season, then seek a long-term deal, possibly in Southern California, where he still lives. However, McGwire signed a contract to stay in St. Louis instead. (It is also believed that McGwire encouraged Jim Edmonds, another Southern California resident, who was traded to St. Louis, to sign a contract with the Cardinals.) There was much media speculation as to where Maris' record would be broken in 1998, and a debate as to who would break it, Ken Griffey, Jr. or McGwire.

As the 1998 season progressed, it became clear that McGwire, Griffey, and Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa were all on track to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record. The race to break the record first became a media spectacle as the lead swung back and forth. On August 19, Sosa hit his 48th home run to move ahead of McGwire. However, later that day McGwire hit his 48th and 49th home runs to regain the lead. Griffey had injury problems and dropped out of the competition, leaving Sosa and McGwire to battle it out to #62.

On September 8, 1998 at 8:18 p.m. et, McGwire hit a pitch by the Chicago Cubs' Steve Trachsel over the left field wall for his record-breaking 62nd home run, setting off huge celebrations at Busch Stadium. The fact that the game was against the Cubs meant that Sosa was able to congratulate McGwire personally on his achievement. Members of Roger Maris' family were also present at the game. Memorably, the ball was freely given to him in a ceremony on the field by the stadium worker who found it.

McGwire finished the 1998 season with 70 home runs, four ahead of Sosa's 66, a record that was broken three seasons later by Barry Bonds. Since Babe Ruth had hit 60 home runs in 154 games during 1927, and Roger Maris hit 61 in 161 games in 1961 (not breaking the record until after the 154 game mark), some had quibbled whether the single-season record was actually broken. With McGwire breaking the record in his team's 145th game, he laid to rest the issue of the extended season.

Although McGwire had the prestige of the home run record, Sammy Sosa (who had fewer HR but more RBI and stolen bases) would win the 1998 NL MVP award, as his contributions helped propel the Cubs to the playoffs (the Cardinals in 1998 finished third in the NL Central). Many credited the Sosa-McGwire home run chase in 1998 with "saving baseball," by both bringing in new, younger fans and bringing back old fans soured by the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.

1999–2001

In 1999, McGwire hit 65 home runs and drove in a league-leading 147 runs while only having 145 hits, the highest RBI-per-hit tally in baseball history. Sammy Sosa again was right on his tail, hitting 63 home runs.

In 2000 and 2001, McGwire had reduced numbers as he played in a reduced amount of games (32-HR in 89 games, and 29-HR in 97 games, respectively).

McGwire ended his career with 583 home runs, which was then fifth-most in history. He led Major League Baseball in home runs five times. He hit 50 or more home runs four seasons in a row (1996-1999), leading Major League Baseball in homers all four seasons, and also shared the MLB lead in home runs in 1987, his rookie year, when he set the Major League record for home runs by a rookie with 49. McGwire had the fewest career triples-- 6-- of any player with 5,000 or more at-bats.

Honors

In 1999, the The Sporting News released a list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players. The list had been compiled during the 1998 season and included statistics through the 1997 season. McGwire was ranked at Number 91. That year, he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 2005, The Sporting News published an update of their list and McGwire had been moved up to Number 84.

However, in the 2007 and 2008 balloting for the Baseball Hall of Fame, McGwire failed to attain election, receiving 128 of the 545 cast, 23.5% of the vote. He received the same exact amount of votes both years. It is widely conceded that this was related to the steroid scandal and McGwire's less than forthcoming testimony (see below).

A portion of interstate 70 in St. Louis and near Busch Stadium was named "Mark McGwire Highway" to honor his 70 home run achievement, along with his various good works for the city.

Steroids controversy

Although McGwire has never admitted to or been convicted of any steroid use, many of his accomplishments, particularly his historic home run surge late in his career, have come into question due to his connection to the steroid scandal in Major League Baseball. Despite being under a cloud of suspicion for years, McGwire has repeatedly refused to discuss his involvement, or lack thereof, with steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire was not identified by name in The Mitchell Report, but he has been accused by former teammate Jose Canseco, who said he personally injected McGwire with steroids.

In 1998, after an article written by Associated Press writer Steve Wilstein, McGwire admitted to taking steroid-precursor androstenedione, an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product. Rumors surfaced later that McGwire admitted to the use of androstenedione to throw off the scent of the steroids he was allegedly using. While legal at the time under U.S. law and for use in MLB, it had already been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the NFL and the IOC.

In 2005, McGwire and Canseco were subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing on steroids, along with five other baseball players and four baseball executives. Canseco had released Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, a book in which he spoke positively about steroids, and made various claims—among them, that McGwire had been using performance enhancing drugs since the 1980s. During his testimony on March 17, 2005, McGwire declined to answer questions under oath when he appeared before the House Government Reform Committee.

In a tearful opening statement McGwire said,

Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers 'No,' he simply will not be believed; if he answers 'Yes,' he risks public scorn and endless government investigations.... My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself. I will say, however, that it remains a fact in this country that a man, any man, should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty."
When asked if he was asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, McGwire once again responded:
I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject.

While no legal action has been taken against McGwire, in baseball or out of it, his testimony cost him public affection and support. In 1999, McGwire was voted to the All-Century Team, and upon his retirement in 2001, he was uniformly characterized as "a future Hall of Famer." However, when his Cooperstown eligibility began in 2006–07, McGwire received less than a quarter of the vote. Several of these sportswriters indicated that they were casting a protest non-vote in McGwire's first year of eligibility, or that they wanted more time to consider the developing steroid story in baseball; some noted that McGwire's relatively low career batting average (.263) and the fact that he did not attain 2,000 hits during his career as deciding factors to abstain. Many others are vocal in stating that he does not deserve induction because he simply was not good enough and that as a first baseman, he is nothing but "Dave Kingman on steroids" . It is unclear where McGwire's true level of ballot support will end up leveling off.

Personal life

McGwire married Stephanie Slemer, a former pharmaceutical sales representative from the St. Louis area, in Las Vegas on April 20, 2002.

They reside in a gated community in Shady Canyon Irvine, California and together created the Mark McGwire Foundation for Children to support agencies that work with children who have been sexually and physically abused to help come to terms with a difficult childhood.

McGwire attended Damien High School in La Verne, California where he started playing baseball, golf, and basketball. He played college baseball at the University of Southern California under legendary coach Rod Dedeaux.

His brother Dan McGwire was a quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins of the NFL in the early 1990s, and was a first round draft choice out of San Diego State University where he was teammates with Marshall Faulk.

McGwire currently avoids the media. He spends much of his free time playing golf.

McGwire appeared on an episode of the sitcom Mad About You, playing a ballplayer infatuated with Helen Hunt's character. Also he has appeared in an episode of The Simpsons playing himself.

Career totals

In 16 seasons, Mark McGwire accumulated these career stats:

Home Run Records

McGwire’s Rookie Record 49

Home Run Game Date Inning Location Opposing Pitcher Team
1 4 04-10-1987 7th Oakland Donnie Moore Angels
2 15 04-21-1987 4th Oakland Urbano Lugo Angels
3 18 04-25-1987 3rd Oakland Scott Bankhead Mariners
4 22 04-29-1987 2nd Oakland Ted Higuera Brewers
5 24 05-01-1987 3rd Oakland Walt Terrell Tigers
6 29 05-08-1987 4th Detroit Frank Tanana Tigers
7 29 05-08-1987 8th Detroit Frank Tanana Tigers
8 30 05-09-1987 6th Detroit Eric King Tigers
9 31 05-10-1987 2nd Detroit Jack Morris Tigers
10 31 05-10-1987 4th Detroit Jack Morris Tigers
11 35 05-16-1987 1st Oakland Jimmy Key Blue Jays
12 37 05-18-1987 7th Oakland Tim Stoddard Yankees
13 38 05-19-1987 3rd Oakland Dennis Rasmussen Yankees
14 39 05-20-1987 2nd Oakland Charles Hudson Yankees
15 41 05-23-1987 2nd Oakland Mike Boddicker Orioles
16 42 05-24-1987 2nd Oakland Jeff Ballard Orioles
17 44 05-27-1987 4th Toronto Joe Johnson Blue Jays
18 48 05-31-1987 2nd New York Tommy John Yankees
19 48 05-31-1987 7th New York Tommy John Yankees
20 59 06-13-1987 4th Arlington Stadium Ed Correa Rangers
21 61 06-15-1987 4th Kansas City Charlie Liebrandt Royals
22 66 06-21-1987 8th Oakland Jose Guzman Rangers
23 72 06-27-1987 1st Cleveland Ken Schrom Indians
24 72 06-27-1987 5th Cleveland Ed Vande Berg Indians
25 72 06-27-1987 9th Cleveland Scott Bailes Indians
26 73 06-28-1987 4th Cleveland Tom Candiotti Indians
27 73 06-28-1987 7th Cleveland Tom Candiotti Indians
28 75 06-30-1987 1st Chicago Scott Nielsen White Sox
29 79 07-04-1987 5th Boston Bruce Hurst Red Sox
30 80 07-05-1987 4th Boston Oil Can Boyd Red Sox
31 83 07-08-1987 6th Oakland Jeff Robinson Tigers
32 86 07-11-1987 2nd Oakland Bill Wegman Brewers
33 86 07-11-1987 8th Oakland Dan Plesac Brewers
34 89 07-17-1987 10th Boston Calvin Schiraldi Red Sox
35 93 07-21-1987 10th Detroit Eric King Tigers
36 94 07-22-1987 8th Detroit Mark Thurmond Tigers
37 101 07-29-1987 4th Oakland Don Sutton Angels
38 113 08-11-1987 7th Seattle Mike Moore Mariners
39 115 08-14-1987 6th Anaheim Don Sutton Angels
40 129 08-29-1987 10th Toronto Mark Eichhorn Blue Jays
41 134 09-04-1987 5th Baltimore Mike Boddicker Orioles
42 136 09-06-1987 2nd Baltimore Jon Habyan Orioles
43 142 09-12-1987 2nd Oakland Charlie Liebrandt Royals
44 145 09-15-1987 4th Arlington Stadium Greg Harris Rangers
45 145 09-15-1987 6th Arlington Stadium Greg Harris Rangers
46 148 09-19-1987 1st Kansas City Melido Perez Royals
47 153 09-24-1987 9th Oakland Scott Bannister White Sox
48 154 09-25-1987 9th Oakland Bobby Thigpen White Sox
49 157 09-29-1987 1st Oakland John Farrell Indians

McGwire’s 70

Number Date Pitcher Length
1 03-31-1998 Ramon Martinez 364'
2 04-02-1998 Frank Lankford 368'
3 04-03-1998 Mark Langston 364'
4 04-04-1998 Don Wengert 419'
5 04-14-1998 Jeff Suppan 424'
6 04-14-1998 Jeff Suppan 347'
7 04-14-1998 Barry Manuel 462'
8 04-17-1998 Matt Whiteside 419'
9 04-21-1998 Trey Moore 437'
10 04-25-1998 Jerry Spradlin 419'
11 04-30-1998 Marc Pisciotta 371'
12 05-01-1998 Rod Beck 362'
13 05-08-1998 Rick Reed 358'
14 05-12-1998 Paul Wagner 527'
15 05-14-1998 Kevin Millwood 381'
16 05-16-1998 Liván Hernández 545'
17 05-18-1998 Jesus Sanchez 478'
18 05-19-1998 Tyler Green 440'
19 05-19-1998 Tyler Green 471'
20 05-19-1998 Wayne Gomes 451'
21 05-22-1998 Mark Gardner 425'
22 05-23-1998 Rich Rodriguez 366'
23 05-23-1998 John Johnstone 477'
24 05-24-1998 Robb Nen 397'
25 05-25-1998 John Thomson 433'
26 05-29-1998 Dan Miceli 388'
27 05-30-1998 Andy Ashby 423'
28 06-05-1998 Orel Hershiser 409'
29 06-08-1998 Jason Bere 356'
30 06-10-1998 Jim Parque 409'
31 06-12-1998 Andy Benes 438'
32 06-17-1998 Jose Lima 437'
33 06-18-1998 Shane Reynolds 449'
34 06-24-1998 Jaret Wright 433'
35 06-25-1998 Dave Burba 461'
36 06-27-1998 Mike Trombley 431'
37 06-30-1998 Glendon Rusch 472'
38 07-11-1998 Billy Wagner 485'
39 07-12-1998 Sean Bergman 405'
40 07-12-1998 Scott Elarton 415'
41 07-17-1998 Brian Bohanon 511'
42 07-17-1998 Antonio Osuna 425'
43 07-20-1998 Brian Boehringer 452'
44 07-26-1998 John Thomson 452'
45 07-28-1998 Mike Myers 408'
46 08-08-1998 Mark Clark 374'
47 08-11-1998 Bobby Jones 464'
48 08-19-1998 Matt Karchner 398'
49 08-19-1998 Terry Mulholland 409'
50 08-20-1998 Willie Blair 369'
51 08-20-1998 Rick Reed 393'
52 08-22-1998 Francisco Cordova 477'
53 08-23-1998 Ricardo Rincon 393'
54 08-26-1998 Justin Speier 509'
55 08-30-1998 Dennis Martinez 501'
56 09-01-1998 Liván Hernández 450'
57 09-01-1998 Donn Pall 472'
58 09-02-1998 Brian Edmondson 497'
59 09-02-1998 Rob Stanifer 458'
60 09-05-1998 Dennys Reyes 381'
61 09-07-1998 Mike Morgan 430'
62 09-08-1998 Steve Trachsel 341'
63 09-15-1998 Jason Christiansen 385'
64 09-18-1998 Rafael Roque 423'
65 09-20-1998 Scott Karl 423'
66 09-25-1998 Shayne Bennett 375'
67 09-26-1998 Dustin Hermanson 403'
68 09-26-1998 Kirk Bullinger 435'
69 09-27-1998 Mike Thurman 377'
70 09-27-1998 Carl Pavano 370'

See also

References

External links

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