Mark McGwire, a former superstar at first base, had an outstanding 17-year career in the major leagues. After hitting 70 home runs in a single season in 1998 while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire was widely regarded as one of baseball’s all-time great sluggers.
After nearly a decade had passed since his final MLB game, everything came crashing down when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, which had been linked to him. Eventually, McGwire admitted to using illegal substances, but not before he tried to hide the true motivations behind his use for quite some time.
Baseball Career of Mark Mc Gwire
Mark McGwire was one of the league’s brightest young stars from the moment he broke into the spotlight with a record-setting rookie season that included 49 home runs.
While playing for the Oakland Athletics in the late 1980s and early 1990s, McGwire became a bona fide star player, earning selection to the All-Star team on multiple occasions and playing a key role in the team’s 1989 World Series victory.
He was selected to the All-Star Game six years in a row, and he hit at least 30 home runs five of those years, and more than 40 twice. Despite an injury-plagued stretch, McGwire hit for power in back-to-back 50-homer seasons before being dealt to the Cardinals in 1997.
He played for St. Louis for the final five seasons of his career before retiring due to an injury at the end of the 2001 season. As a result, in his first two years with the team, he had two of the best individual seasons.
That was highlighted by the 1998 season when he tied Sammy Sosa for the league lead in home runs with 70, and the 1999 season, when he hit 65. McGwire’s final two seasons were marred by injuries, and he played in under 100 games in each season before calling it quits at age 38.
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The Reason Behind Mark McGwire’s Steroid Use
Mark McGwire’s career has been tarnished by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs after being exposed by his former longtime teammate Jose Canseco in his book Juiced.
In 2005, McGwire was one of eleven baseball players and executives who were subpoenaed to testify before Congress about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport. Twelve-time All-Star Mike Piazza said he was not interested in giving an in-depth interview about his career. According to ESPN, McGwire finally admitted using PEDs in 2010—but only for medical reasons.
“During the mid-’90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years,” McGwire said. “I experienced a lot of injuries, including a ribcage strain, a torn left heel muscle, a stress fracture of the left heel, and a torn right heel muscle. It was definitely a miserable bunch of years, and I told myself that steroids could help me recover faster. I thought they would help me heal and prevent injuries, too.”
True, there was a rough patch in McGwire’s career when he missed over 200 games spread out over five years. He endured numerous injuries on the job, but that doesn’t justify his use of that method of survival. Even if it wasn’t technically illegal, the fact that it helped him succeed makes it seem like a shady and unfair tactic.
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Mark McGwire’s Legacy Is Forever Tainted
Mark McGwire’s legacy will be forever tarnished by the association of his career with steroid use.
Consequently, he struggled mightily to gain traction in the Hall of Fame voting and ultimately failed to do so. Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds are just a few of the players linked to steroid use who have not yet received enough votes to earn induction.
McGwire had an extremely successful career, but it has been overshadowed by the asterisk that is his legacy in Major League Baseball.