Statistically, he’s the most consistent power hitter the game has ever known.
Mark McGwire’s story contains so much more than that. But on the field, McGwire was undeniably a star.
“I still tell him that it was an honor and pleasure to play with him,” said Albert Pujols, the man who took over for McGwire at first base for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fred McGriff was cut from his high school baseball team as a sophomore – and became so determined to improve he road his bike 20 miles to the gym to train.
All that hard work paid off.
His career is unlike almost every other Yankees star, because it included no World Series glory.
But even without a championship on his resumé, Don Mattingly remains an all-time favorite among Yankees fans – and deeply etched into the team’s record book.
In Kenny Lofton’s first home game with the Cleveland Indians in 1992, the scoreboard at Cleveland Stadium listed his minor league stats as a Houston Astros farmhand in 1991.
Stolen base total: a mind-boggling 168.
It was a typo, as the “168” number was Lofton’s career stolen base total in four years as an Astros minor leaguer. But the fans in Cleveland applauded wildly anyway and speculated about what Lofton’s incredible speed would mean for their team.
From a sore-armed high school pitcher to one of the big league’s most powerful batters, Ryan Klesko’s baseball career took him to places he never dreamed.
Now, he’s one step short of immortality at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Klesko is one of 37 players on the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2013 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Klesko is making his debut on the ballot.
Roberto Hernandez ever threw a big league pitch, he was told his career was done.
Seventeen big league seasons and 326 saves later, Hernandez finds himself on the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot.
When Shawn Green was hitting .717 in Little League ball in Orange County, Calif., in the mid-1980s, he began to believe he would overcome the odds and make the major leagues.
But a backup plan was in place, just in case.
“If Shawn doesn’t make the majors,” his mother Judy told The Orange County Register, “he’ll just become a doctor.”
Julio Franco broke into the major leagues as one of the most heralded prospects of the 1980s. He ended his career as the oldest player to hit a big league home run.
In between, Franco proved to be one of the most successful batters of his era. And today, Franco stands on the verge of Cooperstown as he debuts on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot.
“An MVP-type player, the kind of guy you build an infield around,” said former Cleveland Indians manager Mike Ferraro, Franco’s skipper when he became a regular with the Tribe in 1983.
At every critical career juncture, Steve Finley has to prove his baseball ability.
He never once fell short.
“He brings defense to the table, and he’s a good offensive player,” said Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn when he was Finley’s teammate with the San Diego Padres in the mid-1990s. “He’ll steal you bases, score runs, get on base a lot. All of a sudden, it’s top-of-the-line player stuff.”
Jeff Conine’s baseball career began as a 58th-round draft pick before taking him to All-Star Game and World Series glory.
Now, Conine stands on the precipice of history.
Conine is one of 37 players on the 2013 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2013 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Conine is making his debut on the ballot.