Mark McGwire stays hidden away in Southern California. A huge bronze statue the St. Louis Cardinals commissioned to honor McGwire stays hidden in Missouri. Will either come out to see daylight? Story here in the Lexington Ledger-Independent.
In the warm afterglow of McGwire's great 70 home run season, his team, the Cardinals commissioned Missouri sculptor Harry Weber to design, plan, and execute a bronze statue of the slugger, in honor of his incredible home run tally. Whatever the Cardinal's plans, the sculpture hides somewhere in a St. Louis warehouse, gathering dust, not accolades.
The Cardinals commissioned the statue after McGwire hit 70 homers in 1998, obliterating Roger Maris' 37-year-old record. There's a place set aside for it alongside other mini-monuments to Cardinals legends outside Busch Stadium.
The Cardinal brass say things are under control. McGwire gets into the Hall of Fame, the bronze behemoth gets placed outside Busch.
Cardinals president Mark Lamping said team policy is that statues are reserved for Hall of Famers whose numbers have been retired. An exception is Kenny Boyer's No. 14, retired in 1984 even though he did not make it to the Hall.
"It really isn't something we need to even worry about at this point because his number is not retired," Lamping said. "If you look at the past and use that as your guide, retiring a jersey would be the guide
However, Weber, the sculpture worries. Obviously times have changed for McGwire, now with the steroids controversy. McGwire, eligible for the HOF vote last year, received a mid-20% vote snub. It's anyone's guess how that vote will go in the future.
That all changed in 2005 when McGwire was evasive in testimony to Congress regarding steroid use in baseball. Baseball didn't ban steroids until after the 2002 season for players with major league contracts.
Weber vividly remembers watching McGwire's testimony, knowing the fate of his sculpture might be hanging in the balance
"My feet started to sweat and I had to leave the room," Weber said.
All this steroid madness reaches into the way we honor our heros. McGwire without juice (if he took 'roids) would h ave likely hit 500 home runs. Seventy in one year though? The ball was juiced, the pitching depleted, so maybe.
Sad though, the way the recent frenzy trashed memories of McGwire. A sports writer has proposed amnesty given to sluggers who fess up to anabolic use. We advocated McGwire come completely honest about use. Lay the chips on the table for all to see. This state of murky confusion isn't going to help anyone, not voters, not fans, not the players themselves.
Get the truth out there so future fans know if players used or not. The American public understands and forgives flaws. The Nation suspects the HOF voters would take 5-10% off the top of the home run totals then re-examine a sluggers career.
Get the McGwire statue out in daylight where it belongs. Don't hide the work in a dark corner of an unknown, which is the MLB handles the steroid issue.