Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 1998: Big Mac Hits *62

On September 8, 1998, in a 6-3 win over the cubs at Busch, Mark McGwire broke the single season home run record with his 62nd blast of the year. Just one day earlier the slugger tied Roger Maris' record with his 61st bomb and the electricity was in the air as all 43,644 at Busch knew that with one swing of the bat they would witness history. That swing came in the top of the fourth, the Cards were down 2-0 and the powerful McGwire came to the dish with thousands of flash bulbs popping in anticipation of the moment. It came with Big Mac down 0-2 before he pounced on the Steve Trachsel pitch that was a hard liner that just snuck over the wall in left. It was his shortest home run of the year at 341 feet, yet it was the biggest home run of his career. The excitement by McGwire as he reached first base was off the charts, he nearly forgot to tag the base while celebrating the milestone with first base coach Dave Mckay. The trot around the bases was like no other trot before, he was the single season home run king. As he stepped on home plate his teammates mobbed him he found his son and held him in the air, it was truly a great moment. The Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa who was in search of the crown was sitting on 58 on that September night came running in to congratulate Big Mac. That summer those two sluggers formed a bond as they both were in pursuit of a record that had stood for 37 years. While I know the records were tainted, the summer of '98 was something special in St. Louis, the electricity that ran through the air could have powered all of Times Square. As time progressed the use of performance enhancers came to light and it has definitely cast a shadow on a very memorable summer. I do not condone how McGwire was able to put up the ridiculous numbers he did, but I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. I loved every minute of it. Big Mac finished that campaign with 70 jacks while Sosa sat at 66, the record was surpassed by Barry Bonds in '07 when he hit 73 and that is where it sits today. I honestly do believe that Maris should still be considered the home run king and the records set by the known juicers should simply have an asterisk. Time will tell how history looks at back on the great home run chase of '98, I know I will always look back at as a fond memory, however, my memory will have an asterisk next to it.

I've always been a fan of this video:

Check out the box score:

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