It seems as though Mark McGwire is finally ready to talk about the past. On Monday, January 11, 2010, the once former baseball superstar admitted to using steroids on and off in his career, including the 1998 season, when he then set the all time single season home run record with 70 round trippers.
McGwire released a press statement about his use of the performance-enhancing drug through out his career today in his first time ever explaining his involvement in the steroid scandal in America that he helped to cause. Controversy about drugs like steroids and Human Growth Hormone began to grow after the former Oakland Athletic and St. Louis Cardinal’s historic ’98 campaign, when he and then Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa enthralled baseball and sports fans alike in their chase for Maris’ record, perhaps the most cherished in America’s Pastime at that moment. Fans noticed how players were doubling in size and bombing baseballs over fences when they would have hit a handful of homers only years ago and McGwire and Sosa were at the top of the list of players with the most dramatic body changes.
McGwire had said that he wanted to get the news out about his past drug use before he took over his new job as the hitting coach for the Cardinals this spring so the issue would not disrupt his team’s spring training process. In his statement, he said to the AP, “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.” The former player said he used steroids briefly in the 1989-90 offseason, after an injury in 1993, and on occasions through out the 1990’s, including the famous ’98 season. A source close to McGwire also said that he had also used Human Growth Hormone during his time in Major League Baseball, something which was unmentioned in is personal statement.
Since McGwire retired from baseball after the 2001 season, he has lived in the shadows of the public eye, rarely showing himself in public, which led to further suspicions from fans that he was guilty of something he did not want to share. These hunches were magnified into accusations about four years later, when a shrunken, smaller looking McGwire appeared in a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. about performance enhancing drugs in baseball where he so famously said “I’m not here to talk about the past” after being asked by government leaders about his possible, and now confirmed, usage. He was also a target of his former Oakland teammate and admitted steroid user, Jose Canseco, in his tell-all book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big,”. Canseco, who also went after players like Jason Giambi, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Rafael Palmeiro said that in their time together, he had personally injected McGwire with the drugs and that he was guilty of cheating.
The then supposed steroid usage has haunted McGwire ever since. He has been eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY since 2006 and has ample stats to be admitted in (583 HR, 1414 RBI, .982 OPS%, 12 time All Star), but has yet to even receive 25% of the votes in any of his four years of eligibility. His reputation has been soiled as the name McGwire is best associated with the words cheater, fraud, and liar. McGwire knew that he could not lie forever and needed to eventually come clean. “I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come,” McGwire said. “It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected.”