Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #92 MARK McGWIRE


WHO DIDN'T LOVE BIG MAC IN '98?


BUT PEDs TOOK THE SHINE OFF HIS MEMORABLE SEASON.



DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Mark McGwire pumped himself full of pharmaceutical helium in the mid-1990s, becoming as strong as a lumberjack and quick as a viper. It all paid off during the Summer of Swat in '98 when he was the first to top Roger Maris' record of  '61 homers in a season and went on to hit 583 in his 16-year career. In the end, when the balloon popped and the game's stewards stopped looking the other way, he shriveled up and disappeared after the '01 season. He admitted to his PED use in January '10 to re-enter the game as the Cardinals' hitting coach, preposterously saying he used only for recovery. But "I'm not here to talk about the past'' with regards to McGwire's career. ... Wait a second, yes I am.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • McGwire became the single-season home run champ on Sept. 8, 1998, hooking a line drive over the left-field fence at Busch Stadium off the Cubs' Steve Trachsel. The Maris family was in attendance and McGwire went into the stands to celebrate, making for a Kodak moment that made many wince when the truth came out.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Big Mac hit eight more homers in '98 to finish with 70 in 155 games. In addition, he led baseball in walks (162), on-base percentage (.470), slugging, (.752), OPS (1.222) and OPS+ (216). He also tacked on 147 RBI for good measure.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. McGwire was a first baseman with a power-forward build when he came out of USC and broke into the majors with the Athletics full time in '87, winning the AL Rookie of the Year with a spectacular 49-homer season.
  2. He soon became an injury-plagued hitter full of holes: From '88-'94, he averaged 27 homers, hit .243 and played an average of 117 games.
  3. After hitting nine homers each season in '93 and '94, McGwire hit 39 in '95 and and 52 the next year.
  4. When he hit 34 in his first 105 games in '97, the Athletics traded him to the Cardinals, where he added 24 more to lead the majors with 58.
  5. Since being eligible for the Hall of Fame since '07, McGwire has yet to reach 25 percent (75 percent is needed for election). Expect Wednesday's numbers to be similarly downsized.

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