Sports Stars

Baseball

Mark McGwire

Nicknames
"Big Mac"

Played For
Oakland A's (1986-1997), St. Louis Cardinals (1997-2001)

Post-Season
1988 ALCS, 1988 World Series, 1989 ALCS, 1989 World Series, 1990 ALCS, 1990 World Series, 1992 ALCS, 1999 NLDS, 2000 NLDS, 2000 NLCS

World Champion?
Yes, 1989 Oakland A's

Ultimate Games (0-1)
2001 NLDS Game Five

Game Five against the Diamondbacks was the last game of McGwire's career. Curt Schilling defeated the Cardinals, 2-1.

Honors
All-Star (11): 1987-1992, 1995-1999; Rookie of the Year 1987; Gold Glove 1990

Position
McGwire played 1,763 games at first base. He was DH 37 times, played 3B (24 games) and some outfield (four games in 1987-1988).

Major League Debut: August 22, 1986

The Home Run Race of 1998
The chase was hardly a chase at all as late as May. On May 24, 1998, Mark McGwire had 24 home runs, while Sammy Sosa was at nine. But soon, Sammy made his move and the race was on. From May 25-June 23, Sosa belted 21 home runs in 30 days. He set a record with 20 home runs in June, which was also the most homers ever hit in any month. It became clear that both McGwire and Sosa were drawing a bead on roger Maris's single-season home run record. The question was: who would get there first?

On August 19, Sosa hit his 48th home run and passed McGwire for the first time. But later in that game, McGwire answered with a pair of homers and reclaimed the lead. "Big Mac" would stay relinquish the lead just once more.

Over Labor Day weekend the Cardinals and Cubs played each other in St. Louis and the media circus surrounding the home run chase collided in one location. The two sluggers embraced the publicity, helping put baseball back on the front pages and in the news. On September 8, McGwire finally passed Maris, lining a shot over the left field wall at Busch Stadium. Sosa watched from right field and applauded. McGwire made an emotional trip around the bases, pointing to the sky as he crossed home plate to honor Maris, whose sons were in attendance. Soon, Sosa arrived and hugged McGwire, who lifted Sammy off his feet. Baseball had a golden moment. But three weeks still remained in the season and the chase was still far from over.

Five days later, Sosa hit two home runs in Wrigley Field to tie McGwire at 62. Adding to the tension of the McGwire/Sosa race was the fact that the Cubs were in a fight for a playoff spot. On September 25 in Houston, Sosa hit #66, creeping ahead of McGwire for the final time. McGwire responded by hitting a homer of his own a few innings later in St. Louis to bring the chase to a tie once more. Sosa failed to any more homers, while McGwire belted four in his final two games to finish with an astonishing 70 for the new single-season record.

Three years later, Barry Bonds broke McGwire's record, which many thought would last longer than Maris's had. Bonds blasted 73 homers to establish the new standard. One of the players given the best chance to break Bonds record is Sosa, who hit 63 in 1999, 50 in 2000, and 64 in 2001.

Feats
Set single-season home run record with 70 in 1998. Became first man to hit 50 homers in three straight seasons (1997-1999). Both of those records were later matched or topped by Sammy Sosa and/or Barry Bonds... McGwire hit three homers in a game five times. He did it in 1987, 1995, twice in 1998, and once in 2000.

Uniform #'s
#25 (1986-2001), both with the A's and Cardinals.

Best Season, 1998
Set an NL record with 32 homers on the road. He hit three homers in one game twice. Hit 21 homers in his first 41 games, 40 in 90 games, 50 in 125 games, and shattered the ML record with 70 for the season. In the process he set a Cardinal record with 145 RBI and a NL record for 162 walks. McGwire hit 33 solo homers, 28 two-run homers, seven three-run homers and two grand slams. Hit homers against 65 different pitchers. He led baseball in slugging, OBP, and total average. For some reason sportswriters selected Sammy Sosa as MVP.

Milestones
Hit his 500th career homer on August 5, 1999, off Andy Ashby of the Padres.

Replaced
The immortal Bruce Bochte, who hit .256 with 20 extra-base hits in 125 games as the A's first sacker in 1986.

Replaced By
35-year old free agent first baseman Tino Martinez, in 2002.

Best Strength as a Player
Power

Largest Weakness as a Player
Staying healthy


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