Mark McGwire takes the cake—er, Big Mac—for hottest start by a Cardinal acquisition.
He hit 24 home runs after joining the club on August 1, 1997 with 15 in September and 13 over a 19-game span from August 28 to September 19. For an encore, he then blasted a home run in each of his first four games the following season for 12 RBI on 7-for-12 hitting.
Everyone knows what happened next.
McGwire finished the 1998 season with a MLB-record 70 home runs (now second behind Barry Bond's 73). He turned in a mind-boggling .299/.470/.752 slash line with 147 RBI and 130 runs.
In 1999 he hit 65 homers with 147 RBI, 118 runs and a .278/.424/.697 line.
"Big Mac" was traded on July 31, 1997 by the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals for Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein.
According to the official St. Louis Cardinals website, his total of 110 homers in 1996 and '97 are the most ever in back-to-back seasons by a right-handed hitter. He finished 1998 by homering in 12 consecutive series. His 517-foot blast in his first at-bat on September 16 came on the day he announced his multi-year contract with St. Louis.
Breaking Roger Maris' 1961 single-season record of 61 homers
- McGwire broke the long-standing record with his 62nd homer at 8:18 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, September 8, 1998.
- Unlike many of his towering home runs, the record-breaking blast came with two outs in the fourth inning on a frozen rope that barely zipped over the left field wall.
- Adding to one of the game's best rivalries, the shot came against Chicago Cubs' right-hander Steve Trachsel.
Records set by McGwire during 1998
- 162 walks—National League record
- Average of one home run every 7.27 at-bats—MLB record
- 38 home runs at home—National League record
- First player to hit at least 50 homers in three consecutive seasons
- 16 home runs in May—Cardinal record
- First Cardinal to hit a grand slam on Opening Day
- Longest home run in Busch Stadium history (an estimated 545 feet on May 16)
- Oldest player (34 years, 324 days) in major league history to hit 50 homers in a season
Mark McGwire followed his record-setting 70-homer season of 1998 with a 65-homer campaign in 1999 when he led the league with 147 RBI.
McGwire climbed 10 spots on the all-time home run list while extending his of consecutive 50-homer seasons to a record of four. This moved him into 10th place with 522 career blasts. He hit No. 500 on August 5 off San Diego's Andy Ashby to reach the plateau in the fewest at-bats (5,487) in big-league history.