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Mark McGwire

First baseman
Born: October 1, 1963 (1963-10-01) (age 46)
Pomona, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
August 22, 1986 for the Oakland Athletics
Last MLB appearance
October 7, 2001 for the St. Louis Cardinals
Career statistics
Batting average     .263
Home runs     583
Runs batted in     1,414
Career highlights and awards

MLB Records

Mark McGwire (born October 1, 1963) is a former Major League Baseball player who played his major league career with the Oakland Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals.[1] He is replacing Hal McRae as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals for 2010.[2]

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 (Ryan Howard is second at 11.32 and Babe Ruth is third at 11.80).[3] In 1987, he broke the single-season home run record for rookies, with 49. In 1998, McGwire and Sammy Sosa achieved national fame for their home run-hitting prowess in pursuit of Roger Maris' single season home run record; McGwire would break the record and hit 70 home runs that year.[4] Barry Bonds now holds the record, after hitting 73 home runs during the 2001 season. In 2010, McGwire publicly admitted having used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.


Playing career (1981-2001)

McGwire was drafted in the 8th round (199th overall) by the Montreal Expos in 1981. McGwire opted for college instead, reasoning that the scholarship offered by USC was worth more than the $8,500 ($19,914 in current dollar terms) the Expos were willing to pay. After three years at Southern California and a stint on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, McGwire was drafted 10th overall by the Oakland Athletics in the 1984 Major League Baseball Draft.

McGwire made the major leagues in August 1986. As a rookie in 1987 he hit 33 homers before the All-Star break and was a unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year after finishing with 49 homers, 118 RBIs and a .289 average. His 49 longballs smashed the old rookie record of 38, jointly held by Frank Robinson and Wally Berger. He also exhibited a healthy perspective by sitting out the season's final two games and a chance at 50 home runs to be present at the birth of his first child.

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 declined and, with it, his defense.

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.


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.[1] On July 3 and 4, 1988, McGwire hit game-winning home runs in the 16th inning of each game.[5][6] Through May 2009 McGwire was tied for third all-time with Joe DiMaggio in home runs over his first two calendar years in the major leagues (81), behind Phillies Hall of Famer Chuck Klein (83) and Ryan Braun (79).[7]

But 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.[8] 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."[9]

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.[10][11]


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.

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 (1998)

In 1997, he hit a major league-leading 58 home runs for the season, but 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.)

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 fell behind 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 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. Curiously, 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, but not the issue of performance enhancing drugs to do so.

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.


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 number of games (32-HR in 89 games, and 29-HR in 97 games, respectively).[12]

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.


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 (though he received fewer votes than any other selected player). In 2005, The Sporting News published an update of their list and McGwire had been moved up to Number 84.

However, in the 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 balloting for the Baseball Hall of Fame, McGwire failed to attain election, receiving 128 of the 545 cast (23.5% of the vote) in 2007, 128 of 543 (23.6%) in 2008, 118 of 539 (21.9%) in 2009, and 128 of 539 (23.7%) in 2010.

A portion of Interstate 70 (see also: Interstate 70 in Missouri) 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.

Steroid use

In 2010, after accepting the position of Cardinals hitting coach, McGwire admitted to using steroids during his playing career.[13] Many of McGwire's accomplishments, particularly the historic 1998 season in which he broke Roger Maris' single season home run record, came under suspicion during Major League Baseball's steroid scandal in the 1990s. Despite being under a cloud of suspicion for years,[14] McGwire repeatedly refused to discuss his involvement with or use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.

In 1998, after an article by Associated Press writer Steve Wilstein, McGwire admitted to taking androstenedione, an over-the-counter muscle enhancement product that had already been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the NFL and the IOC. At the time, however, use of the substance was not prohibited by Major League Baseball and it was not federally classified as an anabolic steroid in the United States until 2004.[15]

Jose Canseco released a book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big, in which he wrote positively about steroids and made various claims — among them, that McGwire had used performance enhancing drugs since the 1980s and that Canseco had personally injected him with them.

In 2005, McGwire and Canseco were among 11 baseball players and executives subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing on steroids. 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."[16]

When asked by Representative Elijah Cummings 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.

On January 11, 2010 McGwire admitted to using steroids on and off for a decade, and said "I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era."[13] He admitted using in the 1989/1990 offseason and then after he was injured in 1993. He admitted using them on occasion throughout the '90s, including during the 1998 season.

McGwire's decision to admit using steroids was prompted by his decision to become hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.[17]

Personal life

McGwire was born in Pomona, California. He 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 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 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 [18]. Together they created the Mark McGwire Foundation for Children to support agencies that help children who have been sexually and physically abused come to terms with a difficult childhood.

McGwire currently avoids the media.[19] He spends much of his free time playing golf. He is currently working as a hitting coach for Major League players Matt Holliday, Bobby Crosby, Chris Duncan and Skip Schumaker.[20]

McGwire appeared on an episode of the sitcom Mad About You, playing a ballplayer that Helen Hunt's character was infatuated with.

McGwire provided his voice for an episode of The Simpsons titled "Brother's Little Helper". He played himself.

Coaching career

On October 26, 2009, returning manager Tony LaRussa confirmed that McGwire will become the hitting coach for the Cardinals, replacing Hal McRae as the fifth hitting coach in Tony LaRussa's term as manager.

On January 7, 2010 Tony LaRussa mentioned that he might consider putting McGwire in the lineup as a pinch-hitter on August 31, should the Cardinals be in contention to make the playoffs, but La Russa admitted it was a dream and he was only kidding.[21]

Career totals

In 16 seasons (1986-2001), McGwire accumulated these career stats:[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Mark McGwire Statistics -
  2. ^ La Russa: “This is the time for Mark to join our club” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 26, 2009
  3. ^ Career Leaders & Records for At Bats per Home Run -
  4. ^ Progressive Leaders & Records for Home Runs -
  5. ^ July 3, 1988 Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays Play by Play and Box Score -
  6. ^ July 4, 1988 Oakland Athletics at Cleveland Indians Play by Play and Box Score -
  7. ^ Sandler, Jeremy, "NL Weekly: The Notebook," National Post, May 27, 2009, accessed 5/28/09
  8. ^ October 18, 1988 World Series Game 3 at Network Associates Coliseum Play by Play and Box Score -
  9. ^ 1989 World Series - OAK vs. SFG -
  10. ^
  11. ^ - SI Online - Mark McGwire Flashback: Most Happy Fella - Thursday January 03, 2002 11:55 AM
  12. ^ McGwire stats
  13. ^ a b "McGwire admits steroids use". ESPN. 2010-01-11.  
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ - McGwire mum on steroids in hearing - Mar 17, 2005
  17. ^ "McGwire admits to steroid use: Will appear on MLB Network tonight to discuss admission". 2010-01-11.  
  18. ^ Ryon, Ruth (March 2, 2008). "A Moorish fantasy in Irvine's Shady Canyon". Los Angeles Times.,1,3528751.story. Retrieved May 19, 2008.  
  19. ^ - E-Ticket: Fading Away
  20. ^ McGwire Talks About Teaching Hitting, March 13, 2009
  21. ^ "McGwire to speak, but date not set: Cards GM hopeful new hitting coach will appear soon". 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2010-01-11.  

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jesse Barfield
American League Home Run Champion
Succeeded by
José Canseco
Preceded by
José Canseco
American League Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Walt Weiss
Preceded by
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Home Run Derby Champion
Succeeded by
Juan González
Preceded by
Mo Vaughn
American League Player of the Month
June 1996
Succeeded by
Juan González
Preceded by
Albert Belle
American League Home Run Champion
Succeeded by
Ken Griffey, Jr.
Preceded by
Steve Finley
Two or more 3-home run games in a season
Succeeded by
Jeff Bagwell
Preceded by
Mike Piazza
Jeff Kent
Jeromy Burnitz
National League Player of the Month
September 1997; April & May 1998
September 1998
July 1999
Succeeded by
Sammy Sosa
Matt Williams
Vladimir Guerrero
Preceded by
Dean Smith
Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year with Sammy Sosa
Succeeded by
U.S. Women's National Soccer Team
Preceded by
Larry Walker
National League Home Run Champion
1998 – 1999
Succeeded by
Sammy Sosa
Preceded by
Roger Maris
Single season home run record holder
Succeeded by
Barry Bonds
Preceded by
Larry Walker
National League Slugging Percentage Champion
Succeeded by
Larry Walker
Preceded by
Tiger Woods
Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Tiger Woods
Preceded by
Sammy Sosa
National League RBI Champion
Succeeded by
Todd Helton
Preceded by
Tony Gwynn
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
Succeeded by
Todd Stottlemyre

Simple English

Mark David McGwire (born October 1, 1963 in Pomona, California) is a former right-handed First baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Oakland Athletics (1986–1997) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1997–2001). He had a career .263 Batting average, and 583 Home Runs.

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.



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