Mark McGwire hits a home run during his last Major League season in 2001
In his prime, he was perhaps the Babe Ruth of the 1990s. Like Ruth, he was a big man, and a prolific home run hitter; he hit the ball out of the park once in every 9.42 at bats, beating out Ruth for the highest home run ratio in major-league history. Like Ruth, he had begun as an outstanding pitcher. And like Ruth, he was a superb low ball hitter who learned to golf the ball for titanic home runs, balls that sometimes cleared the fences with 100 feet to spare. Because of this uncanny ability to hit the long ball, teammates called him "Colossus". Other nicknames of his included "Big Mac" and "The Reptile".
McGwire ended his career with 583 home runs, which was then 5th-most in history. He hit 50 or more home runs four seasons in a row (1996-1999), and led Major League Baseball in homers all four seasons. He 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. Although McGwire led the majors in homers five times, he was a league leader only four times. In 1997, he did not lead either league in homers, as he was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals in midseason.
In 1998, the year when McGwire and Sammy Sosa spent much of the season chasing the single-season home run record of Roger Maris, the two shared Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsmen of the Year" award. It is worth noting that McGwire admitted to administering Androstenedione, an androgenic steroid, during the same year, although at the time it was not tested for by the MLB.
McGwire worked hard on his defense at first base, and resisted being seen as a one-dimensional player. McGwire also had a sense of baseball history that is rare among modern players. He graciously involved the family of Roger Maris when he broke Maris's single season home run record on September 8, 1998. He finished the season with 70 homers, a record that has since broken by Barry Bonds.
McGwire began his career with the Oakland A's and played there until 1997, when he concluded his career with a few years with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won the World Series just once, with the Oakland A's in 1989.
McGwire won a silver medal with the USA amateur baseball team in the 1984 Summer Olympics; that team was coached by Rod Dedeaux, who had also been his college coach at the University of Southern California.
Since he retired, McGwire has kept a low profile. His admission that he used the supplement androstenedione has led to speculation that he also took steroids. McGwire has denied using illegal performance-enhancing drugs but refused to do so under oath when he appeared before the House Government Reform Committee on March 17, 2005. As McGwire said in his opening statement, "If a player answers 'No,' he simply will not be believed, if he answers 'Yes,' he risks public scorn and endless government investigations." When asked if he was asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, McGwire said: "I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to be positive about this subject."
Mark McGwire's career totals
- Games played 1874
- At bats 6187
- Runs 1167
- Hits 1626
- Doubles 252
- Triples 6
- Home runs 583
- Runs batted in 1414
- Walks 1317
- Strike outs 1596
- Stolen bases 12
- Caught stealing 8
- On base percentage .394
- Slugging percentage .588
- Batting average .263
- Baseball-Reference.com – career statistics and analysis