What was the Accusation?
On January 11, 2010, former Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals player Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids during his career: “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.” He admitted using them in the offseason in 1990 and after an injury in 1993. He admitted using them on occasion throughout the 1990s, including during the 1998 season. McGwire said that he used steroids to recover from injuries and not to gain an advantage. In fact, he always–even after admitting the use of steroids–maintained that he didn’t need them in order to hit the home runs and pass Roger Maris’ home run record. He credited watching a great deal of film on pitchers and a shorter swing for his upsurge in performance. Many were surprised that McGwire finally made the admission since he refused to answer questions in 2005 after being subpoenaed to testify in front of a congressional hearing with 11 other MLB players. What triggered congressional inquiry was former teammate Jose Canseco’s book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big. In the book, Canseco claims that McGwire had used performance-enhancing drugs since the 1980s and that Canseco had personally injected them. McGwire’s decision in 2010 to admit using steroids was prompted by a new job offer to serve as hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Many were pleased that McGwire had come clean, such as his former manager Tony La Russa, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, and Pat Maris (widow of the late Roger Maris). Rich Maris, Pat Maris’ son talked about how his mom felt after receiving a personal phone call from McGwire: “My mom was very touched by his call. She felt sorry for Mark — that he’s going through this. She conveyed that we all make mistakes and move on from there.”
Key Apologia Strategies:
Mortification, Defeasibility, Differentiation
Video (partial interview with Bob Costas)
McGwire’s 2005 Statement in Congressional Hearing:
Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers ‘No,’ he simply will not be believed; if he answers ‘Yes,’ he risks public scorn and endless government investigations … My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family, and myself. I will say, however, that it remains a fact in this country that a man, any man, should be regarded as innocent unless proven guilty.
McGwire’s 2010 Statement to the Associated Press:
Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago.
I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize. I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 off-season and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the ’90s, including during the 1998 season.
I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.
During the mid-’90s, I went on the DL seven times and missed 228 games over five years. 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.
I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.
Baseball is really different now — it’s been cleaned up. The commissioner and the players’ association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I’m glad they did.
I’m grateful to the Cardinals for bringing me back to baseball. I want to say thank you to Cardinals owner Mr. DeWitt, to my GM, John Mozeliak, and to my manager, Tony La Russa. I can’t wait to put the uniform on again and to be back on the field in front of the great fans in Saint Louis. I’ve always appreciated their support and I intend to earn it again, this time as hitting coach. I’m going to pour myself into this job and do everything I can to help the Cardinals hitters become the best players for years to come.
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.
McGwire’s 2010 Interview with Bob Costas of the MLB Network:
Bob Costas: On why and when he started trying steroids?
Mark McGwire: The gyms you worked out back in the day. It was readily available. Guys at gyms talked about it. I believe it was the winter of 89 into 90. I was given a couple weeks worth. I tried it, never thought anything of it, just moved on from it.
As far as using it on a consistent basis, the winter of 93/94. I did it on health purposes. If you look at my career in 93, 94, 95, 96, I was a walking MASH unit.
I told my dad yesterday when I finally had to tell him about this I remember calling him in 96 (pauses), I was so frustrated with injuries, I wanted to retire. He’s the one that told me to stick it out. At the time, yeah, I was using steroids, thinking it was going to help me. It was brought to my attention it was going to help me heal faster and make my body feel back to normal. I was a walking a MASH unit. It doesn’t feel good when you have teammates walking by saying, ‘He’s injured again.’ I knew I was talented. I knew the man upstairs gave me the ability to hit this baseball, gave me the hand ey coordination. My parents gave me the great genetics. But I was running into these roadblocks by something I very much regret.
Costas: On 98-99-2000 seasons:
MM: I learned how to hit.
Costas: Could hit 70 HR without steroids.
MM: Absolutely. I was given this gift by the man upstairs. My track record as far as hitting home runs, my first at bat in Little League was a home run, they still talk about the home runs in high school, they still talk about the home runs in legion, they still talk about the home runs I hit in college, I led the nation in home runs. They still talk about the home runs I hit in the minor leagues. I was given the gift to hit home runs. See the thing is, about the years your talking about, go back to 93 94, those were the two years I was really injured where I missed basically three quarters of a season. That was the first time in my life that I sat back and really had to understand what this game was all about. I started studying pitchers. I started understanding how they try to get you out. During that, my swing was changing. I started off as a raw kid, who had the ability to hit from the back leg and hit wall-scrapping home runs. Over the years, as you saw, my swing became shorter and shorter, and I learned how to hit through the baseball.
Costas: Would you have hit nearly 600 home runs etc..:
MM: I truly believe so. I believe I was given this gift. The only reason I took steroids was for my health purposes. I did not take steroids to get any gain for any strength purposes.
Costas: But Didn’t you become stronger??
MM: I’ve always had bat speed. I just learned how to shorten my bat speed. I learned how to be a better hitter. There is not a pill or an injection that is going to give me the hand-eye … or give any athlete … the hand-eye coordination to hit a baseball. A pill or an injection will not hit a baseball.
Costas: If that’s the case, you must really regret . You’re telling me you could have done what you did without touching PEDs.
MM: That’s why it’s the most regrettable thing I’ve ever done in my life (Tears well. Sniffs)
Costas: On baseball trend of HRs, citing Bonds?
MM: It was the era that we played in. I wish I never played in that era. I wish we had drug testing. If we had testing when I was playing, you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation today. I guarantee you that.
Costas: What drugs did you use?
MM: The names I don’t remember. But I did injectables. I preferred the orals. The steroids I did were on a very, very low dosage. I didn’t want to take a lot of that. I didn’t want to look like Arnold Schwartzenneger or Lou Ferigno. My weight was 250. I finished every season around 235 or 240. I took very very low dosages because I wanted my body to feel normal. The wear and tear of 162 ballgames and the status of where I was at and the pressures that I had to perform and what I had to go through to get through all these injuries is a very very regrettable thing. I wish it never came into my life. But we’re sitting here talking about it. I wish I didn’t have to. I apologize to everybody in major-league baseball (lip trembling), my family, the Marrises, Bud Selig. Today was the hardest day of my life (tears in eyes, biting his lip).
Costas: You said you called Pat Marris, Roger’s widow? How did that go?
MM: I think she was shocked I called. I felt good. I felt I needed to do that. They’ve been great supporters of mine. She was disappointed and she has every right to be. I couldn’t tell her how so sorry I was.
Costas: When you broke the single-season record in 1998 it wasn’t simply a statistical achievement St. Louis..Sammy Sosa young son Matt you embrace Marris family people genuinely appreciated that .they consider father’s 61 the authentic single-season record?
MM: They have every right to. It’s unfortunate I played in this era. I wish wholeheartedly there was testing in this time. I can’t turn back the clock. All I can say is I’m sorry and it’s been one of the toughest days of my life and I totally regret everything I’ve done.
Costas: On Canseco’s book more times count go into bathroom stall to shoot each other up ?
MM: There’s absolutely no truth to that whatsoever.
Costas: Why would he say?
MM: He had to sell a book.
Costas: So that didn’t happen in the clubhouse?
MM: Absoluetly not. I couldn’t be more adamant about that.
Costas: Did Tony La Russa know either in Oakland or St. Louis?
No. He found out this morning (Pauses, sniffs, licks lip). That was a hard call.
Costas: Did you let him down?
MM: He’s like talking to my dad. Yeah, I let a lot of people down. It doesn’t feel good.
Costas: Does today feel better in some sense because you’re unburdening in a sense?
MM: I don’t know. All I wanted to do was come clean. I wanted to come clean since 2005. I didn’t know where when or how. I’ve just been holding this in (sniffs, bites lip).
Costas: On why testified as did before Congress? Are you OK to continue?
MM: No, it’s fine.
Costas: Go ahead.
MM: So, 2005, I’d been subpoenaed to testify. Flying back there, I was ready willing and prepared to talk about this. I wanted to talk about this. I wanted to get this off my chest.
Costas: You would have said then what you essentially would have said today?
MM: Absolutely. My lawyers Mark Bierboder (sp?) marty steinberg (sp?) … I meet them back there, we talk about this situation. Marty, a former federal prosecutor, laid out a couple scenarios. ‘If you go out there and talk about this without protection, there’s a very good chance of a possible prosecution or grand jury testimonies.’ So we talked, we were in meeting downstairs with Congresman Waxman and Congressman Davis. Our lawyers were down there trying to get immunity for me. I wanted to talk, I wanted to get this off my chest. Well, we didn’t get immunity. Here I was in a situation where I had two scenarios: Possible prosecution or possible grand-jury testimonies. Well you know what happens when there’s a possible prosecution? You bring in your whole family, you bring in your whole friends, ex-teammates, coaches, anybody around you. How the heck am I going to bring those people in for some stupid act that I did? So you know what I did? We agreed to not talk about the past. And it was not enjoyable to do that, Bob. Let me tell you right now, sitting up there and listening to the Hooten family behind me and the other families behind me that lost their loved ones, and every time I kept on saying, ‘I’m not talking about the past,’ I hear these moans. It was killing me. It was absolutely killing my heart. But I had to do what I had to do to protect myself, to protect my family and to protect my friends. Anybody who was in my shoes that had those scenarios set out in front of them would have done the same exact thing.
Costas: I’m not a lawywer but the statute of limitations on these crimes is 5 years..Anything to do with the timing?
MM: No, the timing has to do with the Cardinals, being offered the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Costas: Do you think you would have come forward f Tony La Russa had not asked you to be the hitting coach?
MM: I knew someday somehow somewhere I was going to have to talk about this. It’s funny how the universe works. I didn’t expect to get an offered a job. Here it is, I accepted the job. I was the one that went to the Cardinals and said we need to do something about this, I need to come clean. The last thing I want to do is put pressure on the cardinals, the players, teammates, anybody. To have me be a burden and not have this off my chest. So this is what it has come to.
Costas: On the “I’m-not-here-to-talk-about-the-past” line being a calculated phrase from keeping him from perjury?
MM: I want to add one more thing: I was not going to lie. I was not going to lie. I wanted to tell the truth. But because of the position I was in, and to protect my family and to protect me, I decided I would take the hits. I think anybody’s going to take the hits. I’ve been taking hits for five years. It doesn’t feel very good.
Costas: Let’s clarify: You’re not here to talk about the past. If a congressman said not good enough and you’ll be held in contempt..would you have taken fifth?
MM: I agreed with Congressman Davis and Waxman that I would not talk about the past. That was the agreement.
Costas: That was the agreement before the hearing began?
Costas: As it’s playing out, you know it’s not going well?
MM: Yeah, but all I’m thinking about is protecting my family (bites lip) for some stupid act that I did.
Costas: Would family been in legal jeopardy if you admitted using steroids?
MM: Anytime there’s a prosecution, any family members and those close to you will be summoned to talk to whoever. Why would I do that when they knew nothing about what I was doing? They just found out yesterday. My parents found out yesterday. My son found out yesterday. I kept this to myself.
Costas: You kept this from everyone, your son Matt who’s in your 20s, your younger childen, your parents. Did they press you about it?
MM: I’ve never been asked point blank, have you ever taken steroids.
Costas: Did you assume other people in baseball, in your family, those close to you, that they just figured?
MM: Anybody can assume. Yeah. That’s what I’ve been living with. But that’s why I’m hear today to come clean, to be honest.
Costas: From folk hero to exile What toll has that taken on you?
MM: Well I have to correct you there. I wasn’t in exile there. It’s called retirement.
Costas: You weren’t out there publicly?
MM: I chose not to. I chose to be retired. I chose to start a family. That was one of the biggest reasons I got away from the game of baseball. I wanted to start a family. I was happy. I’ve been very happy. For somebody to say I was in exile, I wasn’t in exile. I was enjoying my life like everybody should when they retire.
Costas: How big of a burden was it to carry this secret until today?
MM: Hmm. (Bites his lips, sniffs, tears well in his eyes) Can’t you see it?
BREAK AT 30 MINUTES
Costas: Did you feel you were cheating?
MM: As I look back now as far as my health and my injuries, trying to help my injuries to help me feel normal, I can see why people would say that. As far as the god-given talent and hand-eye coordination and the genetics I was given, I don’t see it.
Costas: I heard that explanation before in terms of god-given ability .if you take two cars at Indy isn’t it possible you were a naturally great home run hitter and might have hit 45 50 60 home runs all sudden guys popping 660 70 home runs?
MM: Can’t talk about other people. I can talk about me. The toll my body was going through, and the level that I had to play at and the injury plaque that I was plagued with for many many years, I had mentally thought that by taking the low dosages would make me feel normal, and that’s what I felt like. I did not take this for any strength purposes, at all. I look at my swing and look at how it evolved over time. My ball was getting so much backspin and driving. It was going out of the ballpark. That’s from a lot of hard work. That’s from many, many hours of hitting off the tee. I was the first one to the ballpark and the last one to leave.
Costas: Conceding the reason you took it in your mind was to stay healthy through a long and grinding season and that you were a very hard worker and understood science of hitting didn’t you say to yourself in late 90s, I could do better because of steroids?
MM: No, never crossed my mind. I just believed in my ability and my hand-eye coordination. And I believed in the strength of my mind. My mind was so strong, and I developed that on my own. No pill or no injection is going to do that.
Costas: Did you do HGH?
MM: I did.
Costas: How often?
MM: I tried it, I don’t know, once, twice maybe.
Costas: It wasn’t a significant factor?
Costas: Did steroids cause you to break down physically?
MM: That’s a great question. If you look at when I started taking it in the winter of 93/94, I broke down in 94. Missed three quarters of the year. I go into 95 and I broke down again. I could have been. But for some reason I kept doing it. Mentally I thought maybe keep doing this and maybe I’ll feel better and better and I’ll get out of this rut of being a MASH unit.
Costas: On andro as decoy?
MM: No. I took andro, it was over the counter, I took it, it made my body feel good. I started taking it 97, 98, 99.
Costas: On baseball atmosphere, whether it was an open secret?
MM: I don’t know. I hid it. I never talked about it. I can’t remember ever a conversation about the subject in any of the clubhouses I did. If I did, which I don’t remember, I walked the other way.
Costas: So no one in Oakland or other clubhouses wouldn’t discuss it with you?
MM: Not on the teams I played.
Costas: Not at batting cages?
MM: Not with me, it didn’t happen.
Costas: Do you view your achievements now as authentic?
MM: Authentic in what way?
Costas: That they’re legitimate and should be taken at face value.
MM: I’ll go back to the thing: Unfortunately I took steroids because of injuries. When I look at my hand-eye coordination and what God gave me in my ability, I’d have to think so.
Costas: Did prospect of drug testing hasten your retirement?
MM; Oh no. I would have loved drug testing when I played. We wouldn’t be here talking about that. I was absolutely tired of rehab and getting beat up physically. I missed the whole second half of 2000 with a knee injury. I rehabbed all winter. 2001 I played, probably shouldn’t have, but I played and my knee was still thrashed. At the end of 2001, I said I am so tired of rehab, I’m done. At the time I met my beautiful wife and I wanted to get off and start a family.
Costas: During the playoffs of what would have been a last at bat, there was a sacrifice situation, Kerry robinson pinch hit?
MM: I look at my career ending and my last at-bat in Milwaukee after 9/11, it was a home run. So my last official at bat in a major league ballgame outside of the playoffs was a home run. I don’t look at it as a playoffs because not everybody gets to play in the playoffs. Deep down inside I didn’t feel great about doing that. But it was the right move. I shouldn’t have been playing in that game, either. My knee was thrashed.
Costas: On drug policy and HOF?
MM: Not for me to judge. For writers and whoever votes for HOF?
Costas: How much does HOF mean to you?
MM: First of all, I’m not here doing this for the HOF. I’m doing this for me, to get this off my chest. I played this game of baseball because I was given an abililty to play. If I’m lucky enough to get in there, it’s just icing on the cake. But I played this game because I loved it.
Costas: On HOF voting numbers?
MM: I had a feeling it was coming. I didn’t watch. The only time I know about percentages is when a friend or somebody brings it up and tells me about it. When I retired, I retired. I moved on with my life. Baseball was a chapter in my life and now I’m excited to start another chapter as a hitting coach.
Costas: On addressing this beyond the interview on MLB Network?
MM: We’ll allow the Cardinals to take care of that. The most important part is to come clean. People out there now and I hope they really see how truly sorry I am (bites lip).
Costas: What if it becomes an ongoing distraction?
MM: We’ll take it as it comes. The old saying, the truth shall set you free. We’ll see if this is really true. This is something that’s been on my chest a good five years. It’s something that can’t be answered at this time.
Costas: If Cardinal hitters ask you about PED?
MM: It’s the stupidest thing I ever did. There’s no reason to even go down that road. It’s an illusion. Look what I have to do. I’m sitting here because of a stupid mistake.
Break after 44 minutes.
Costas: Did you feel unfairly singled out?
MM: No, I never thought about it that way. I knew after I left Congress I know what I did, I knew I had to take the hit and I had to live with it. But I knew someday I had to talk about it.
Costas: Do you feel better?
MM: No, (laughs). It’s going to take a few days. It’s tough because when you have to tell your son and your family for the first time, something I’ve hid for a long, long time. Especially my wife, close friends, it’s not pleasurable doing that.
Costas: What were conversations like with dad, son, Tony?
MM: I’d like to keep it private. I’ve always been a private person. Very emotional, they were very very supportive, they were very proud of me. They think this is going to be good for me. I just don’t want to be any distraction to the Cardinals. I want to be a really good hitting coach. I have a lot to offer. I’ll be there from sun up to sun down helping these guys out. I don’t want this stuff to be a distraction. After a few days, when this is all said and done, we can move on from this. That’s what I’m hoping happens.
Costas: Confession good for soul?
MM: I’m sure I’ll find out soon. There’s just a lot of built up emotion.
Costas: On St. Louis fan base reaction?
MM: I’m asking for a second chance. I hope they give it to me. Because I have a lot to offer. I have a whole rolodex of things to teach hitters. I can’t wait to get to spring training to teach. It’s been a passion of mine. It came to a head in October when Tony sent me a text to see if I would be the hitting coach.
Costas: What made you say yes this time?
MM: I think my wife. She knows how much I really enjoy teaching. For the last five years. She thinks it’d be really good for me, especially my 6 and 7 year olds. The last visual people have of me is standing up with my right hand in Congress. So now my children can see me in uniform. They don’t have any idea. They know what baseball is but they don’t have any idea. I can’t wait to expose them to it.
Costas: Do they see video?
MM: Oh yeah, all the time. They’re so young but they don’t understand. They want to be Mark McGwire. I say, ‘No, you want to be Max McGwire, you want to be Mason McGwire.’ You want to be what God gave you. But it’s just very very cute. It’s going to be great having them around the ballpark.
Costas: On being away from home?
MM: It’s a concern but being my wife is from the area (from Illinois across the river), it’s going to work out great. The kids love the cousins. They get to spend the summer out there and fish. It’s going to work out really well.
Costas: On reception on road?
MM: I don’t think I’m concerned. I’m sure there’ll be people yelling and screaming at me. That’s ok. That’s the name of the game. That’s what you have to do to be in the public eye as an athlete. I’m a coach. I’m not on the field playing anymore. I’ll accept it as it comes.
Costas: On the respect around baseball?
MM: As far as when iw as a baseball player, all I ever did was work my tail off to help this ballclub win. I didn’t like the attention. I’m a shy guy. I did my best with what I could in the media. I tried to include my teammates, they were fantastic to me. I don’t have one thing from the 98 season. I didn’t keep any of that stuff. I gave everything away to teammates, players, coaches, umpires, people that came through. I just wanted them to have the momentos. It meant more to me to give it to them than to keep it.
Costas: Which teammates talk with?
MM: Pujols. Left message for Holiday. I had a great talk with Albert. He’s by far one of the most terrific human beings. When it’s all said and done, he’ll probably be the best baseball player to ever play this game. His swing is flawless. His work ethic is flawless. He’s a grinder. He’s very intense. I’m just happy to say I can be his hitting coach and watch history be made. I have a very good eye of watching video. I can see what guys are doing. I’ve studied a lot. That’s probably helped players the most, video.
Costas: On memories?
MM: That’s me. That’s who I am. Picking up my son, that’s what I felt. Picking up sammy. Going over to the marries. That’s just who I am.
Costas: If you had a HOF vote.
MM: I’ll leave it up to you guys. I’ll leave it up to the writers. Thank you Bob for allowing me to do this.