by Caesar Cliffius
Now that Mark McGwire has purged his soul about his involvement in the steroid scandal, there is at least one more thing he needs to do.
He needs to fly to Fargo, ND and visit the grave site of the man who he stole a record from. He needs to bend a knee, and ask Roger Maris to forgive him for ruining his home run record that brought him nothing but trouble—even after his death.
Maris was not the best player to ever play the game; that much I will agree with everyone. He was a very good, well-rounded player. Here is what Casey Stengel had to say about him:
“Let me tell you about him. I gave him one point for speed. I do this because he can run fast. I give him another point because he can slide fast. Then I give him a point because he can bunt. I also give him a point because he can field, very good around the fences, even on top of the fences. Next, I gave him a point because he can throw. A right fielder has to be a thrower or he’s not a right fielder. So I add up my points and I’ve got five for him before I even come to his hitting. I would say this is a good man.”
That is indeed high praise from one of the best managers to ever step foot on a diamond.
Maris was not a power hitter in the truest sense of the term. Not a power hitter such as Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, or yes, even Mark McGwire. Big Mac could hit a ball as far as anyone whom he played with, without the artificial aid of steroids.
Roger was smoking three packs of Camels a day, hair falling out by the handful, and being pestered daily by members of the media who did not want to see him break a revered record.
When McGwire’s spotlight was shining, he was basking in the limelight as a crowd favorite to break the record that stood longer than Babe Ruth’s record of 60.
He had his little helper to aid him with his hand and eye coordination, and to supply just a little more pop in his swing. Life for him was good.
The question was not if he would break the record, where would he break it? The Cardinals made a big deal about it and even brought Maris’ family to the ballpark to bear witness to the spectacle.
I remember Maris' meteoric climb to fame in 1961. I was a 10-year-old, but I remember it well. That was how I marked time for years to come. In 1985, I would remark that it had been 24 years since Maris hit 61 home runs.
Maris never even flirted with the Hall of Fame. Even though he won two MVP awards, his numbers didn’t really allow the light to shine very brightly on him.
Some think McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame.
Now I wonder what those same people think. I never thought he was worthy even with all the home runs he hit. His average sucked, and he was not a "HOF type" player.
His thinking was probably that since he was going to be a coach—out in the open as it were—that he should come clean and maybe a forgiving baseball community would accept him. Accept him they might, but I will not.
He is just another cheating, corner-cutting athlete who would do anything to gain an edge, illegal or not.
A sincere, heartfelt apology is due to Maris by McGwire. I wouldn’t expect him to bring a camera crew so it could be filmed, that would make the contrition much more trivialized.
I have zero tolerance for steroid users. ZERO. Sorry, I didn’t mean to scream, but Jesus, this isn’t right.
Big Mac, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens and all of the rest should be banned from the game as Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson have been.
Hell, Rose and Jackson allegedly bet on a game(s); they did nothing to enhance their ability to perform. Lady Justice, where art thou? Are you too blind to see?
The truth is flowing forth freely, yet we sit with our collective thumb up our ass.
I said in a previous article that Maris' record of 61 home runs still stands in my book. He didn’t cheat, didn’t lie; he just hustled, worked, anguished and nearly had a breakdown. McGwire had a party!
On Maris' tombstone are the words: “Against all odds.” When McGwire dies they should say, “He used every advantage, natural or synthesized he could get his hands on.”
Do you have an opinion? Get it off your chest.
This article first appeared in A Sports Moment in Time with Caesar Cliffius