According to the Associated Press, Mark McGwire finally admitted to the world that he used steroids for on and off for over a decade during his playing career. File this one into the ‘you should have admitted it 5+ years ago’ column. Everyone and their mothers knew that McGwire was using steroids and yet he still refused to admit he was using when testifying in front of congress. Now all of a sudden he becomes the hitting coach of the Cardinals and feels compelled to admit his use.
I was 13 in 1998 when Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were battling for the single-season homerun crown. I remember watching every at-bat with anticipation and excitement, hoping to see the record-tying and then record-breaking blasts. I remember how excited I got when I saw McGwire break the record and how amazed I was at his sheer power and strength.
Like many people, I bought a Mark McGwire #62 t-shirt a few days later and proudly wore that t-shirt to symbolize a historic moment that I witnessed on TV. For the first time in my life, I realized how much I loved the game of baseball. I wished I could be like Mark McGwire and one day hit a baseball 450 feet.
“After all this time, I want to come clean. I was not in a position to do that five years ago in my congressional testimony, but now I feel an obligation to discuss this and to answer questions about it. I’ll do that, and then I just want to help my team.” – Mark McGwire
Despite being whole-heartedly convinced that McGwire used steroids a few years back, there was a very little piece of me that still believed he was just a freakishly strong human being and wasn’t lying to congress. Now that McGwire has admitted to using, the little respect I had left for him is gone. He was a role-model for thousands of children and adults alike in the late 90’s, because he could do things no one else could. He apparently had a little help along the way.
My fond memories of the 1998 season are all gone, with the rumors, and now admission, of steroid use. Even more upsetting is that fact that McGwire denied and refused to admit to his steroid use when he had the chance, because he hoped it would eventually go away and be forgotten. This admission is not surprising to anyone, but is still painful for me to hear. Steroids have left a large mark on the game of baseball and changed the course of the sport forever.