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September 5, 1998

Mark McGwire


Q. Do you know number 60 was gone when you hit it?
MARK McGWIRE: Yes (Laughter.)

Q. Can you elaborate?
MARK McGWIRE: What do you want me to elaborate on?

Q. Tell us what it felt like.
MARK McGWIRE: I was just telling myself get a good pitch to hit and drive it. It was a fast ball middle in, and a little bit down on it, got it up in the air and it left the ballpark.

Q. After the home run, you came back in the dugout sat back, relaxed; what were you thinking?
MARK McGWIRE: Really nothing. I mean it just �� I don't do anything out of the ordinary, just what I do all the time. Just now I am under a microscope, every move I make people watch me. I have done it for basically well 60 now. So, just nothing new. I am not going to change the way I think or the way I go about things when I go in the dugout.

Q. Have you talked to Denny Allen yet, the young man who caught the ball?
MARK McGWIRE: No, I have not. Is that his name?

Q. Yes.
MARK McGWIRE: No, I haven't. I am sure I will.

Q. Jack McKeon a little while ago he wanted to heal the country and pitch to you, what does it feel like to be the country healer?
MARK McGWIRE: Wouldn't it be great if that is all it came down to. They have been going at me, so I mean, my last three at�bats I was pitched very well, and my second at bat �� didn't ever really see his slider. He froze me on a couple when he strucked me out, never really broke, hung up and next one was just �� I was a little too aggressive and then Hudek, I mean, flat out nasty, outside back and little off the plate, so, those are the ones you just want to go like this, at this point your hat right to the pitcher and say nice job.

Q. Did you retire the bat after number 60 or do you think it has more homers?
MARK McGWIRE: It's got a few. I don't retire them until they break.

Q. How long have you been using this one?
MARK McGWIRE: I have been using this one after my �� well, 55 broke, so this is �� so I'm on 56.

Q. The same bat every time?

Q. What is the weight on that?
MARK McGWIRE: 33 ounces.

Q. You tied Babe Ruth today. He has been dead 50 years, do you have a sense what it must have felt like to be him in the center of attention of the nation?
MARK McGWIRE: It is unbelievable. I just �� what can you say. I play this game and it just turns out that it happens to be America's past time and what is happening right now, myself and Sosa, Griffey, just it has brought baseball back on the map and if you want to say it has brought America together, it has. So be it. I mean, obviously he must have felt unbelievable just like I do.

Q. Is your son, Matthew, going to be able to be here pretty soon?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I have talked to his mom and you know, we thought it would be good when we get down to 61. Then it just went away, so, hopefully he will be here.

Q. Congratulation.
MARK McGWIRE: Hey, how are you? How old are you?

Q. 10.

Q. Did you play little league as a kid or just plain old baseball and were you this good?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I started playing baseball when I was nine and was, I think, good. Well, I guess I was pretty good, but I don't think I was that good.

Q. Can I get an autograph (Laughter.)?
MARK McGWIRE: There is a good chance of that.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK McGWIRE: If that is what it is, I think we can work that out.

Q. What do you think of the kid who caught the ball's response?
MARK McGWIRE: I think it is outstanding. I just totally disagree with all this money talk about a ball, you know, it just �� it is outrageous why would somebody hold the ball hostage when really basically had nothing to do with it. They were there, they caught it, if you can get something in return, so be it. But the magical one, 62 belong belongs in Cooperstown, hopefully some day we can do that.

Q. Bringing the country attention. I hear nobody in North Dakota is cheering for you.
MARK McGWIRE: Well, that is �� I don't know what to say.

Q. One home run and three strike outs. Could you tell us a fair trade off or would you take that everyday?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, yeah that is 162 homers so, yeah, I'd trade it off anyway (Laughter.)
MARK McGWIRE: I'd take 500 strike outs for 162 homers any day.

Q. Is there any extra gratification to share this moment with La Russa given all your time together?
MARK McGWIRE: Oh, yeah, without a doubt. Especially with, you know, his mother passing away the other day. It is unbelievable what he �� I mean basically has given me my start in the Big Leagues way back in 1986. He stuck through me �� with me and through with me through what I was going through in 1991. And, I owe him a lot.

Q. You have been in the World Series, now this; how do they compare?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I don't think there is any comparison. I mean, this is the same media coverage or maybe a little bit more than a World Series, but you are just looking at one person where in a World Series you are looking at two teams. It is just an unbelievable feeling. I mean, there is not much else to say.

Q. Does this have any special meaning, doing it here in St. Louis, given your relationship with the Cardinal fans?
MARK McGWIRE: Oh, yeah, without a doubt, yeah. They are one of the big reasons why I stayed. I mean I had great support in Oakland, but the St. Louis fans are just on another level. They are cheering out there (Laughter.)
They are still here? (Laughter.) Oh my God. Where are you guys? (cheering in background.)

Q. Do you think about getting Matt here?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I will make a call a little bit later. I know he was on the golf course this morning, so, maybe he was watching this game you know, having a little lunch at the country club.

Q. Any significance to hitting homers against every National League team this season?
MARK McGWIRE: Just, I don't know, I don't know how to answer that. I mean, I don't really look at it that way, just you know, each time you come in you deal with the pitchers, you try to do your best, try to get a ball to drive, if it goes out of the ballpark, great, if it doesn't, you just work from there.

Q. You mentioned that number 62, the baseball belongs in the Hall of Fame. Do you think that one does or the final one that sets the record, if you do so and do you think you belong in the Hall of Fame?
MARK McGWIRE: Do I think I belong?

Q. That is what he wants.
MARK McGWIRE: What are you going to bronze me? (Laughter.). No, I think �� let's be honest, I think 62 definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame and everyone after that.

Q. Everybody talks about being in the Pennant race, do you think that would be a hinderance on either of the teams?
MARK McGWIRE: No, it would help me out because the media would be talking to other players on the team and I mean, everybody in that club wishes we were in that Pennant race, but we are not. There are some guys, great guys who are not getting recognized about it. It is sad. They understand it. They understand what myself and Sosa are chasing, so, there is not much else we can do.

Q. (Inaudible.)
MARK McGWIRE: Finally. I mean just like pitchers have hitters number and hitter has pitcher numbers. Sometimes it just work that way.

Q. Have you thought about the significance of what you had done; only two other men have hit this level?
MARK McGWIRE: Yeah, I have thought about it. It is just one of those things that you think about, then you try to put it out of your mind. I go back to simplifying things. The only thing I can do is take care of myself and swing the bat and try to get a ball to drive. But it is �� I mean, I am surpassed everything I have expected to pass on this team, it is one of those things you think about, but then you just put it aside.

Q. Are you prepared to say that you are confident you will break the record?
MARK McGWIRE: I am just going to take care of it. I take care of myself. I mean, when and if it happens, it is up to the man upstairs. He is the only one who knows when it is going to happen. That is the way I look at it.

Q. Are you finding it easier to see the ball at day games without the cameras flashing?
MARK McGWIRE: No, I don't really notice the cameras flashing until after the fact. So it never really �� that doesn't bother you so much, it's a good backdrop and we have good backdrops here so it really hasn't bothered me.

Q. Did you think they might walk you with men on second and third, and under normal circumstances do you think they would have?
MARK McGWIRE: I don't think �� no. When they brought in Hudek, no, they were going at me. I mean, I probably swung at ball four, but I mean it was a nasty pitch and I mean, I tip my hat.

Q. Has all the attention you received spilled over to the organization you have for the kids?
MARK McGWIRE: As far as what, what are you ��

Q. Has there been more support?
MARK McGWIRE: We got to wait for John Frascatore to go by with his Harley. I talked to him, he cutting his hair short.

Q. Has there been more support for your organization with all the attention you have received?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I have had great support. I mean, I mean my off day the other day I filmed PSA for sexual abuse. It will be running nationally. It has never been done. (Laughter.). You know, it is the first PSA done on sexual abuse, and it will be running nationally through the playoffs and one time during the World Series. And hopefully run on other �� other markets. It has never been done because the sad thing is people don't want to realize that sexual abuse goes on and it is very, very sad. So I think everybody in America if you want to bring America together, let's wake up and smell the coffee, it happens.

Q. When you crossed homeplate and went back to the dugout, looked like you pointed at somebody. Was that anyone in particular?
MARK McGWIRE: That was the owners. Owners �� they sit right next to our dug out. I salute all of them.

Q. Roger Maris had the unofficial asterisk for hitting his home runs in more than 154 games, what do you think about this and what ��
MARK McGWIRE: It is not my fault that I was born at a different age where it wasn't 154 games. It is not my fault that Major League Baseball changes to 162 games. So, why should there be an asterisk. It is unfortunate �� it is unfortunate that there is always somebody that is going to say something that we have to put an asterisk to. Let's just accept what is happening, enjoy it, ride the waive, I mean look what it has done to baseball. But what can I say? I mean, I am sorry I was born in 1963. It was not fair to criticize him for that, no. It is the same thing with him that I am dealing with it. Is it his fault that he played where they changed it to 162 games? No, it is not his fault. So, it is sad that they do say that, but I wish everybody would just throw that stuff aside and accept what is happening.

Q. There is a coach in the audience, how do you feel��
MARK McGWIRE: My man coach. My coach, USC right there. Tiger, my man, coach.

Q. Some of us grew up when Babe Ruth was a figure and Roger Maris was a human being. What kind of sense do you have of Babe Ruth?
MARK McGWIRE: Babe Ruth what can you say �� geez, I mean it is almost �� you are almost speechless when you �� when people put your name alongside his name. I wish I can go back in time and meet him. I mean, it is tough to say �� obviously he was probably the most important sports figure in the world of that time. Hopefully some day that when I pass away, I get to meet him and then I can really truly find out what he was really like.

Q. Given the way you fed off the fans here, do you think you could have done this in Oakland?
MARK McGWIRE: Oh, yeah, without a doubt. I really do. I mean, I think the fans would have come out no matter what. I mean, you got to look what has happened when we go on the road, we went in Pittsburgh they sold out for the first two nights there at Pittsburgh. It is just �� the fans of baseball are coming back and without a doubt, if this was happening in Oakland, I think the same thing would be happening as far as the attendance.

Q. You said it was unbelievable to be in the same sentence of Babe Ruth. For our generation, you are Babe Ruth.
MARK McGWIRE: Well, thank you. I mean, I don't know, I think it is one of those things I am going to have to take some time to let it sink in. Sorry if I don't have a real good answer for that.

Q. They say Babe Ruth saved the baseball after the Black Sox scandal. There was a strike. Now you and Sammy with this home run contest are saving baseballs. How do you feel about that?
MARK McGWIRE: The reception he and I have been getting across the country has been unbelievable. It has brought fans back to the ballpark. I have run into fans on the street that said they hated the game of baseball because of what we did to it. And it is because of what I am doing and Sammy and other great players in the game, they are coming back. They are excited. And, all I can say is thank you.

Q. Talk about the reception on the road, how do you feel about being responsible for creating the curtain call on the road?
MARK McGWIRE: I don't know, it was a feeling in Pittsburgh that I wish every ballplayer can have. I don't know if it has ever happened to another ballplayer visiting player, but it is absolutely incredible. I just thank all the fans, all across America.

Q. With all the talk about what these baseball �� (inaudible) have you been impressed with the last five fans wanted to give the balls back to you, do you think that is because what you stand for?
MARK McGWIRE: I think so. I think people across America understand that, you know. If it belongs to me, if it belongs to Cooperstown, it belongs to the people. People in St. Louis have been talking about putting some balls in their Hall of Fame here, you know, it is just �� it is tremendous. I mean, I thank all the people down in South Florida, in the way they treated me and the four guys that caught the balls and then I get to meet the fellow today. It is just outstanding and I hope it continues. All I can say is thank you.

Q. Have you looked ahead and looked at how many more years you can play there game?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, of course I am going to play as long as I am healthy. I will keep as healthy as I can. But I don't really want to think that. I just want to enjoy the moment right now.

Q. Sosa says he tries to watch all the Cardinal games he can. Will you watch Sosa tonight?
MARK McGWIRE: If I am home and it is on TV, yeah, of course. I am a fan of the game as well as a player and I absolutely enjoy watching him play. He is having an absolutely magical year and you know, I root him on just like anybody else

Q. If you were a scout, how would you have rated yourself as a pitcher and hitter coming out of high school?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I only hit because every young kid hits in high school. I was more or less concerned that I wanted to be a pitcher. I thought I had, you know, I don't know, a little above average fast ball. But I didn't have much break and stuff. That is why I went to USC to learn how to pitch. Look what happened, I turned into a hitter like a lot of guys there, like Dave Kingman. So it is just �� you know, I didn't really learn how to hit until my sophomore, junior year in college, so, you know, I really thank them for the change that I made back then.

Q. (inaudible.)
MARK McGWIRE: Obviously Alaska was important to me. That is where I decided that I wanted to be a hitter and I went back to USC and my coach and I had a few talks because he wanted me to pitch and hit. I said coach I am a pretty good player when I can concentrate on one thing only. So last year he wrote me a great letter. It was a page long, remember that? (laughs). It is the longest letter he ever wrote in his life, and he said a few great things in there. I framed it. It is on my wall in my house right now and I thank him a lot.

Q. Mark, Sammy said at his press conference yesterday he knows you will hit 70 this year. What do you think of that kind of support from your chief competition?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, thank, Sammy, I like that. I mean, that is a nice number but I mean it is a long ways away. I mean, we got a lot of season left, 25 games something like that?

Q. 21.
MARK McGWIRE: 21 games. It is dwindling down. I guess anything is possible but it is not my concern, 70. My concern is the next one.

Q. Do you applaud his ability to keep focus on you?
MARK McGWIRE: I hope there is a lot of focus on him too because is he doing some great things too. I mean, time and time again he is just having a magical year and I root him on.

Q. Speaking of a magical year reaching 60, do you conceive of reaching 60 as a once�in�a�life�time, once�in�a�career�experience
MARK McGWIRE: I don't know. I mean, I remember last year thinking that when I got to 58, finish the season, I thought to myself during the winter, I said: You know, it is possible to get to the record. But one of my goals going in spring training was get to 50 again because I knew that was reachable. It just turned out I am the first person in history to do that three years consecutive. I thought after that I said: You know what? The rest of it is just icing on the cake. And, you know, I mean, 60 is a great number, and I am going to do my best to do whatever the rest of the season holds for me.

Q. How forward are you looking to Monday when Sammy will be here again?
MARK McGWIRE: It is going to be outstanding. I mean, it is going to be I mean all you guys are probably licking your chops, aren't you? They are probably going to have 500 press passes if they don't have it now. It is exciting. I mean, it is like what can I say? This is something the game of baseball needed and it is really juiced it up.

Q. Is the pressure on you decreasing or increasing with each home run?
MARK McGWIRE: Like I said so many times, there is pressure every day that I take the field. The only thing I can do is take care of myself and swing the bat and if I get a pitch to hit, hopefully drive it, that is fine. If not, I go back and try to make adjustments.

Q. With that said, your concentration, is it harder for you to maintain your focus right now?
MARK McGWIRE: No, because that is one of the reasons why I elected not to talk like the other day or yesterday. It is like what am I going to �� I would rather just go about my business�like I am supposed to go about my business. Why should I allow other things to derail me when I come to the ballpark? I do my normal things. There is really not much else to talk about prior to the game. I don't think I have to. If I don't get a hit, I don't think I have to come here and analyze every swing, every pitch. It is nothing different. I mean, obviously I didn't hit a home run so I don't think I have to come in here and talk about it. If I don't, it is good for me. It is a nice mental release, where I can just go home and relax which I did last night. So I am not going to really change anything

Q. Given the fact that you are only one guy alive who really understands what Roger Maris went through, what do you think of the fact that he is not in the Hall of Fame?
MARK McGWIRE: I don't know because it is not for me to say. I mean, I don't have any say on who goes in the Hall of Fame. But I don't know �� that is a tough question to answer, but what he did was absolutely tremendous. I mean, I can only imagine what he went through in New York City I really truly believe he is upstairs watching.

Q. What has happened that there are so many this year to hit 50 and some 60 when it has been done so rarely in the past?
MARK McGWIRE: I don't know. I mean, you can say expansion; you can say it is pitching. You also can say there is a lot of damn good hitters in this game of baseball too. I truly don't believe that, you know, some of these hitters get the credit they should be getting. Just like the pitchers, they are having great years, they should be getting the credit there. That just happens. It goes in cycles. I mean, who is to say in a couple more years where there is not a lot of home runs hit? What are you going to say then � pitching is getting tougher? You just don't �� I don't know. I mean, but I look at the names of the guys that are approaching 50 and over 50, they are just bonified power hitters, so I won't have to worry about anything like that. Just let it take its course.

Q. Was there a point sometime this year when you thought 60 was really possible?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, when I hit 50, I think �� when I hit 50 and 51, came in the next game, yeah, you know, because I truly believed that if you got to 50, by September you had a really legitimate shot of doing it. It just happens that I am sitting on 60 early September. It is quite remarkable.

Q. How important is it for you to try to break the record on this home stand in front of these fans?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I mean, it would be outstanding to do it here. But I mean, it is one of those things that you just �� it is one of those things that the only thing I have control over is swinging the bat. When Cal was doing his thing, you just knew what day exactly he was going to break that record. He knew he had to play five and a half innings and that was it. Here you just don't know when �� what is going to happen. I just have to prepare myself, get some balls to hit. If it happens, I mean, ultimately, yeah, it would be just unbelievable to do it here.

Q. Have you talked to your son Matthew about hitting 50 and if you did what did you say?
MARK McGWIRE: No, I haven't yet. I haven't had time but I will be on the horn whenever I am out here. You still want that autograph?

Q. Yes.
MARK McGWIRE: Are you getting paid by Nickledeon? Are they paying you? Are they really? (laughter).

Q. When you were in Chicago and you and Sammy had that brief get�together, was there anything about that or that time there that loosened you up, whatever, because you hadn't hit many home runs the previous couple weeks before that and then you went on to ��
MARK McGWIRE: I don't think so. I mean, it �� I absolutely respect and love watching what he is doing. I mean, we don't, as players, have much time to spend with each other on �� when other teams come in or we are going there. Basically only time we get to visit with them is when he is at first base. We were just rapping about just anything and that is really about it.

Q. When will your PSA on child abuse be airing and who approached you for it?
MARK McGWIRE: My foundation is doing it. We are doing it and it will be run during the Playoffs, I think, three times and the World Series once.

Q. What is the name of your foundation?
MARK McGWIRE: Mark McGwire Foundation for Children.

Q. You have been asked about this record for the last couple of years and you have talked about not letting it affect your mind. Is it going to get increasingly harder now that you are closer?
MARK McGWIRE: Again, it is out of my control. It is to the man upstairs.

Q. Do you think that somewhere out there in Nickledeon Land some kid is taking a great big swing and his coach is saying: Who do you think you are, Mark McGwire?
MARK McGWIRE: Yeah, I am sure they are. Believe me, I used to take swings and thinking I was Dave Kingman and Steve Garvey and Dusty Baker, but that is just the way it goes.
I guess I am honored if children are doing that.

Q. Does it make much of a difference to have somebody like Sosa out there with you both with the camaraderie and competition to spur you on?
MARK McGWIRE: There is no competition. I don't know where this "Competition" started, but I mean, it is so good what is going on right now for the game of baseball. And it just happens to be � you know, it is the home runs and what he and I are doing and I don't know what else to say.

Q. Is that Sammy Sosa stuff you were doing at second base?
MARK McGWIRE: No, just a little out of sync. I touched the bag a certain way and each bag, so, I had to continue to do it.

Q. It was not in honor of him?

Q. You talk about the man upstairs. At this point when you are out there, what motivates you?
MARK McGWIRE: It is easy what motivates me: I love this game of baseball. That is why I play it. I mean, there is no �� there is nothing to go around it �� love the game of baseball. I play hard every day. That is really what it is.

Q. Can you talk about your post�homer ritual with your teammates. When did it start? What does it mean and is it less painful ��
MARK McGWIRE: We just started doing it �� everybody, you know, is doing a fist or high�five. For some reason I just started hitting our guys in the stomach and it is like they got pretty good stomachs, but we just started doing that and I don't know, just carried on and it is just something that people are watching right now.

Q. Have you hit anybody too hard yet?
MARK McGWIRE: No, we watch it. (laughs).
You are getting ready. I see the ball now (talking to child seeking autograph).

Q. Who can eat more hot dogs in one sitting, you or Babe Ruth?
MARK McGWIRE: I bet you Babe Ruth could. I don't really like �� talking steak, I will match him with steak, but not hot dogs.

Q. When Maris was going for it, the record, he seemed to be crushed by the media press. Now with even more media attention, the internet, 24 hours, it doesn't seem to affect you or Sammy. Why not?
MARK McGWIRE: Because I have a lot of people who just say: Enjoy it, you know, I don't know if I will ever be in this position again, so �� and I like it where there is not a lot of things in my face and I do have a claustrophobic kind of feeling all the time but it is much more comfortable and, hey, I am realistic about things. You can't hit a home run everyday and you can't get a hit everyday. But there is one thing I can do is make adjustments and try to do my best and that is what I do.

Q. Baseball is a sport that puts its past heroes on a pedestal as legends. You are becoming a modern legend. How does it feel?
MARK McGWIRE: It is incredible. It is absolutely incredible. Hopefully you know, hopefully continues with not just me, just with the other great players in the game because they are just �� I mean, there is just unbelievable talent right now in the game of baseball. I think everybody across America is seeing it, and you know, I just happen to be one of the guys at this time that is playing this game with the great players. I mean, just like there was great outstanding players back then, I mean, it is just �� that is the way it goes.

Q. These next three days may be the biggest days of your life. How will you take care of yourself?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, let me see. No, I am not going to do anything different. Just be myself, go have dinner, relax, listen to music, you know, my parents came into town, so, that is really about it. I am not going to change anything. Just I go about being who I am.

Q. Do you imagine number 61 or 62 will be more like Joe Carter in the World Series?
MARK McGWIRE: I have had some guys on the team say they might come around and run with me if that happens. I don't know, I mean, I don't know. I am just going to do �� when and if it happens �� whenever it happens it is just �� I will just let my emotion goes and see what happens.

Q. After all the walks you have had this year, do you think you are getting more pitches now to hit?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I don't �� pitches to hit; if you go back look on video, pitches are hit. Which is a pitch to hit? Pitch to hit is a pitch that has the white of the plate. You just don't don't see many of them. I mean, just because you get a pitch hit doesn't mean you are going to hit it. I get pitched tough no matter what and I know a lot of people are making a lot of things about: Well, are you going to go right at these guys; are you going to pitch to them? This is a game of baseball. You have got to play the percentage. I take what is given to me and I don't want anything given. I want to work. I want to earn what I can get. And, if I hit a pitcher's mistake, that is great. If I hit a pitcher's pitch, that is even better. But hitting is not easy. It is tough. It is 99% mental. You have got to be prepared everyday.

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