Mark McGwire, who played first base in the major leagues for 17 years and retired as a star, had a very successful career throughout that time. McGwire was hailed as one of the game’s best home run hitters during his prime, which was highlighted by the fact that he hit 70 home runs in a single season while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998.
That was all brought crashing down when he was linked to steroids, eventually admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs about a decade after he played his last game in Major League Baseball.
It was a long road before McGwire admitted to using an illegal substance, and even then, he tried to cover his tracks a little bit in explaining why he used them. However, he eventually came clean about it.
How Did Mark McGwire’s Major League Baseball Career Begin?
From the moment that Mark McGwire broke onto the scene in a spectacular rookie campaign behind a then-record 49 home runs by a first-year player, he stayed in the limelight as one of the young prospects in the league.
McGwire was integral to Oakland Athletics throughout the late 1980s and into the early 1990s. It was with the Athletics that he established himself as a legitimate superstar player, earning multiple All-Star nods and being a member of the team that won the World Series in 1989.
During his six straight All-Star selections, he topped 30 home runs five times and more than 40 home runs twice. Before being traded to the Cardinals in the middle of the 1997 season, McGwire had two seasons in which he hit fifty home runs each. Despite the tough stretch caused by injuries, McGwire hit fifty home runs each season.
He spent the last five years of his career with St. Louis before retiring due to injuries after the 2001 campaign. Because of this, he was able to enjoy two of the best individual seasons during his first two years with the organization.
That was highlighted by his 1998 home run war with Sammy Sosa when he had a then-record 70 home runs and followed that with 65 the next season. McGwire struggled with injuries in his final two years, playing fewer than 100 games in each campaign before retiring at age 38.
What Was The Motivation Behind The Use Of Steroids By Mark Mcgwire?
Mark McGwire’s career has since been clouded by the talk of steroids use as he was outed by former longtime teammate Jose Canseco in his book entitled Juiced.
McGwire was among the 11 baseball players and executives subpoenaed to appear before a Senate hearing on drugs in 2005. The player named to the All-Star team 12 times refuted claims that he ever discussed his career at length.
According to ESPN, McGwire did come clean about using performance-enhancing drugs in 2010, admitting that he had done so solely to improve his health.
“During the middle of the 1990s, I went on the disabled list seven times, and as a result, I missed 228 games,” McGwire stated. “I was involved in a severe accident that resulted in multiple injuries, including a ribcage strain, a ripped muscle in my left heel, a stress fracture in my left heel, and a torn muscle in my right heel.
It was a miserable bunch of years, and I told myself that steroids could help me recover faster. I assumed they would help me heal and prevent injuries, too.”
During his career, McGwire went through a difficult patch in which he missed over 200 games spread out over five years. He worked through many injuries, but that doesn’t excuse his decision to utilize that to get through it. Even though this wasn’t on the prohibited list, it was still a shady and unfair strategy that he used and contributed to his success.
Did Mark Mcgwire’s Legacy Be Tainted Forever?
Mark McGwire’s career has become eternally tied to steroid use that has stained his legacy. As a result, he was never able to gain any significant traction in the voting for the Hall of Fame, making it incredibly difficult for him to gain any foothold in the process.
Other players associated with steroids, such as Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds, have yet to receive enough votes to earn induction.
McGwire put forth a highly productive career, but his legacy has become one of the most notable asterisks in MLB history.