Mark McGwire to be considered by Today’s Game Era Committee
“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.
McGwire is one of 10 finalists on this year’s Today’s Game Era ballot that will be considered by the committee on managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The 16-person committee will vote on Dec. 4 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Md.
The 10 candidates on the Today’s Game Era Committee ballot are: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Davey Johnson, Orel Hershiser, Lou Piniella, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner and McGwire. Any candidate who receives votes on at least 75 percent of all ballots cast will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017 on July 30.
Born Oct. 1, 1963, in Pomona, Calif., McGwire was an eighth-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos in 1981 – but opted for a scholarship at the University of Southern California. After three years at USC and a stint on the 1984 United States Olympic Baseball Team, McGwire was drafted in the first round by the Oakland A’s.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound McGwire shot through the minor leagues and debuted in Oakland – as a third baseman – on Aug. 22, 1986. The next season, the A’s moved McGwire to first base – where he proceeded to hit a rookie record 49 home runs en route to a unanimous win in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
With McGwire and Jose Canseco leading the way, the A’s became the American League’s dominant team – winning three AL pennants from 1988-90, and the World Series in 1989. In those three seasons, McGwire averaged almost 35 homers and 101 RBI per year – and won the AL Gold Glove Award at first base in 1990.
Injuries began to take their toll on McGwire as he approached his 30s, and he missed most of the 1993 and 1994 seasons. But in 1995, McGwire – playing in only 104 games – hit an astonishing 39 home runs and was named to his seventh All-Star team. The next season, McGwire hit 52 home runs in only 130 games.
More was still to come.
“I don’t know if people believe this stuff,” McGwire said. “But I think when that when the stars are aligned right, things happen.”
In 1997, McGwire had 34 home runs on July 31 when he was traded to the Cardinals for Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein. Then, in the season’s final two months, McGwire hit 24 more home runs – making a run at Roger Maris’ single-season mark of 61 before falling just three short.
The next year, with baseball still struggling to recover from the devastating strike of 1994, McGwire – along with the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa – chased Maris’ record all summer. Finally, on Sept. 8, McGwire broke the record with his 62nd homer – hugging his son Matt as he crossed the plate.
He finished the season with 70 home runs, a mark since topped by only Barry Bonds. More importantly, he brought many fans back to the game.
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Craig Muder is the director of communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum