Forgiving Mark McGwire: A Letter To Steroid Users

Joe HojnackiContributor IJanuary 13, 2010

01 Aug 2000:  Mark McGwire #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals swings during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves 0-4.  DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/ALLSPORT
Elsa/Getty Images

Dear Mr. McGwire,

A few days ago you admitted to using steroids throughout your professional baseball career. You admitted that you broke one of the most sacred records in sports after using performance enhancing substances. You said you did it to recover from injuries, not to give you home run hitting strength.

You say that you could have hit all those moon shots without the help of those substances. You believe that you were given that ability at birth. I am okay with that.

Plenty of writers, television personalities, and fans have ridiculed you on a public scale. They call you a liar, cheater, a fraud. They forget the joy and jubilation you brought the sporting world in the summer of 1998 when they were calling you a hero. You saved baseball that summer Mr. McGwire, you and Mr. Sosa.

I remember that summer like it was yesterday. You saved baseball for me that season, too. I remember waking up every morning and turning on the television to see if you hit another home run. I remember sitting in sixth grade drawing pictures of you and your colossal swing. I remember watching No. 62 fly over the fence at Busch Stadium and jumping for joy.

When I heard the rumors of drugs being involved I was in denial. I was young and naive thinking that there was no way anyone would cheat like that. As I grew older, and wiser, I learned that there was no way you were not cheating. I didn't call you a fraud, but I was ashamed that I once thought of you as a hero.

I write to you now, in another older and wiser form, to say I am sorry and that I forgive you. You made a mistake. You took performance enhancing drugs because you thought it would help you stay in the game. You cheated, admittedly so, and for that I forgive you.

While I am here, I want to take the time to say the same thing to other people in your position.

Mr. Sosa: You gave Mr. McGwire a great run at the home run record in 1998. You hit 60 home runs three years in a row, presumably under the influence of steroids. I forgive you.

Mr. Bonds: You broke both sacred records to the delight of many. You have been hated on by the media for your involvement in the steroid era. You maltreated the media much the same way they did to you. I forgive you as well.

Mr. Clemens: You pitched your way into a young child's heart under the influence of steroids. You then proceeded to exchange pointless lawsuits with your formal trainer over the Mitchell Report. For that, I forgive you.

Mr. Rodriguez: You were once thought to be the steroid era's savior. Then, last spring, it was revealed that you, too, used steroids. You may be a Yankee, but this Red Sox fan forgives you.

And to anyone else who once used illegal substances in order to return from injury or give yourself a competitive edge, I forgive you all. You made mistakes, everyone does that. You are only human.

Whether you guys plan to come clean and admit your faults at any time does not matter to me. Whether you guys plan to make an honest effort to clean up the game does not concern me at all. This die hard baseball fan forgives you for your mistakes.

I wish other baseball writers, broadcasters, and fans would do the same and absolve you of your wrong doings. I feel it would be a huge step towards moving beyond the steroid era and towards a better, cleaner game of baseball.

Thank you for your time, Mr. McGwire. Best of luck to you in your new job with the St. Louis Cardinals.


Joe Hojnacki