July 31, 1997 the Cardinals traded Blake Stein, Eric Ludwick, and T.J Mathews to the Oakland A’s for Mark McGwire. On the day of the trade McGwire said, “I think probably the weirdest thing will be putting on red shoes,” McGwire joked. He also went on to say “I’m very excited to be reunited with Tony LaRussa , the coaching staff and some former teammates. I personally think I need to change. I think this deal is good for me and for the Oakland A’s . . . . It’s not going to be easy, but you come to a crossroads in your life where change is good for you.” As you all know the rest is history.
On August 7 2007 after a loss to the Braves of 3-0 the Cardinals had a very unhappy flight home. As most of you know I am a huge autograph hound. I remember earlier on this day a friend of mine called me to see if I am interested in a late night autograph hunt with the incoming Cardinals, and I responded with a big yes! Well my eyes where on McGwire since I had a picture of him which is shown up above, I also had a baseball in my pocket. My friend and I found the spot where the Cardinals where entering, so we hunkered down and waited till they arrived. As I looked at my watch I heard my friend say, “Joe, here they come!” I was ready for Mark McGwire and whoever would sign my baseball. I first saw Ron Gant so tried to get his autograph but he put his hand up and walked away, then Danny Jackson walked by and told me, “Please I am too tired!.” All of a sudden I saw the 6’5 frame of Mark McGwire coming my way, I quickly got my picture out along with a black marker. I was able to get McGwire to stop and talk to me, he then noticed the picture of him in a A’s uniform he looked at me and smiled. This small moment went a long way with me. It was until in 1998 in which he hit 70 home runs and broke Roger Maris’s 61 and help revive MLB with Sammy Sosa.
Here are some of McGwire’s accomplishments that helped him get into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. He known as one of the top sluggers of his era, McGwire ended his career with 583 home runs, which was fifth-most in history when he retired. When he hit his 500th career home run in 1999, he did so in 5,487 career at bats, the fewest in major league history. He led all MLB in home runs in five different seasons, including 1987 and each season from 1996 to 1999. Totaling 245 home runs from 1996−99, it was the highest four-season home run output in major league history. Further, in each of those four seasons, he exceeded 50 home runs, becoming the first player to do so. He was also the first player to hit 49 or more home runs five times, including his rookie-season record of 49 in 1987. With a career average of one home every 10.6 at-bats, he is the leader in major league history for frequency of home runs.
I just want to say congrats Mark McGwire for getting the vote as the new Cardinals Hall of Famer for 2017. I know he has been connected to a lot of drama in regards to using a performance based drug and also came out and talked about what he did. I just want to tip my hat to him for being a stand up guy. I am hoping that the Cardinals will wipe the dust of his statue and finally display it.