Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Mark McGwire Biography - Early Life, Chronology, Potent College Player, The Stuff Of Legend, Breaks Roger Maris's Record - SELECTED WRITINGS BY MCGWIRE:

Mark McGwire - The Stuff Of Legend

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It was inevitable that reporters started comparing McGwire, the newest home run phenom, to the home run legends, Babe Ruth and Roger Maris. The unrelenting media attention irked McGwire, who valued his privacy. He felt added pressure to produce at the plate too and his home run production fell off in the second half of the season. Nonetheless at the start of the A's last game, he had hit 49 homers, the most-by far-ever hit by a rookie. It bespeaks McGwire's character that he chose to miss that last game and gave up the chance at 50 home runs to be present at the birth of his first child. He was the unanimous choice for 1987 American League Rookie of the Year, only the second in baseball history so voted. The next few years belonged to McGwire. Between 1988 and 1990, McGwire hit 104 home runs and 302 RBIs, leading the A's to three straight American League pennants, and a world championship in the earthquake-wracked 1989 Bay Bridge World Series with the San Francisco Giants.

The year 1991 saw a downturn in McGwire's batting fortunes. By then American League pitchers had adjusted to him but, as he later admitted, he had not readjusted to them in return. McGwire suddenly lost his stroke; his average and home run production plummeted. A recurring back injury and the break-up of his marriage just made hitting more difficult. He hit a meager-for him-22 home runs with a .202 batting average that year. McGwire bounced back in 1992, however, hitting 42 homers and collecting 104 RBIs, earning him Comeback Player of the Year honors from United Press International. Although he continued to be plagued by injuries through the middle 1990s, the homers continued to jump off his bat: 39 in 1995 and 52 in 1996, the latter the most hit by an American Leaguer since Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961.

In 1997, the A's were but a shadow of the team that won four pennants at the beginning of the decade. McGwire was the last of the team's great players and his contract was coming up for renewal. Trade rumors abounded. Oakland was reluctant to pay the millions McGwire would demand as a free agent; moreover, McGwire was anxious to play for a contending ball club again. On July 31, 1997, he was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite the switch to a new league, with different pitchers and ball parks, McGwire finished 1997 with 58 home runs. Still he left fans speculating if he would have broken Maris' home run record if he had stayed with Oakland.

Mark McGwire - Breaks Roger Maris's Record [next] [back] Mark McGwire - Potent College Player

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