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September 7, 1998
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
MARK McGWIRE: Listen to the fans again. (laughs).
Q. Was that home run a birthday present for your father?
MARK McGWIRE: Yeah, it was. I didn't call him today to say happy birthday because I was driving to the ballpark today. I said this is meant to give him the birthday present, 61st home run on his 61st birthday, so be it. It just happened to be, so happy birthday, dad.
Q. What did Sammy Sosa say to you?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, first he congratulated me. Gave me a big hug, which is all class. And he told me not to get too far ahead of him.
Q. Were yoy as sure it would stay fair today as you were sure it would be foul yesterday?
MARK McGWIRE: Yeah, I knew today just because it was a lot higher than yesterday's, and as soon as it left my bat. I put my hands up and it was just a matter of ββ probably hooked foul past the pole, but I knew at that time, what a feeling that was, I'll tell you.
Q. Would you take us through that first atβbat from the first pitch on through?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, basically I just worked him. I told myself to just stay calm, stay calm, and I was very relaxed today. I was very calm. Sometimes when ββ you might get caught up in the moment, you might be shaking a little bit, my heart was beating a thousand miles a minute, and I just was telling myself get a good pitch to hit, went after the first pitch, it was a slider, second pitch was a fast ball that stayed up. And then I am almost sure it was just another fast ball, stayed up. Just got the head on it real well, hit it down the line, it stayed fair.
Q. What was your son's reaction to the home run?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, amazing thing he got here he landed probably 12:35, from California, and then I didn't see him there in the top of the first inning. Then I went into the hole to get my bat, there he is, told him I loved him, gave him a kiss, next thing I knew I see him at homeplate, and, what a wonderful feeling a father could have.
Q. You talked a lot about not thinking anything special as you rounded the base. Did you think anything special today?
MARK McGWIRE: I was just ββ it was almost ββ I was like in awe and then when Mark came over, it was almost like a bash and Gary came over and congratulated me and it reminded me when Hank Aaron rounded the bases and a few of the Dodgers were shaking his hands. And I remember when I was a kid at home watching that, so, good old last my third base coach going back to the Oakland A's gave me the good old bash of the A's days then I get home saw Ray Lankford and I look over to the left and there was my son.
Q. You gestured to a lot of people. Could you go through the list. You signalled and did you gesture to Sammy?
MARK McGWIRE: I remember coming down the line, I pointed upstairs to the man upstairs. Then I pointed to my father. Said happy birthday. Then I saw my son. I pointed back to my father again, just in case he didn't hear me. Then I went in the dugout, came back out, I looked over to Les, saw the Maris's over there, pointed upstairs, pointed to my heart that Roger is with me. Blew him a kiss, pointed upstairs again, I mean that is really about it. I'd like to point to everybody in the whole world right now, but that is just on the top of my head right now. But what a great, great feeling. You know what, I looked out in the outfield at one time and he had his head down and that is I told him when he came to first base I said I wanted to do ββ you know he sort of laughed, so but I did look out there.
MARK McGWIRE: Crossed my mind since I came here. That is why it is Roger, I truly believe he is with me. And one other thing, Herzog and Mike Shannon who are associated with the St. Louis Cardinals are still here. I think that is one big reason why Roger Maris is walking with me right now.
Q. Would you also talk about your relationship with McKay going back with the Oakland A's?
MARK McGWIRE: Best BP thrower anybody could have. What can I say? He gets me ready in every game. I am sure he can tell a lot of stories, but it is great that somebody like Dave McKay is getting recognized for something like this, I am really happy for him.
Q. You came out and had a good round of BP, did you just feel great from the beginning and knew it was going to be today?
MARK McGWIRE: I felt very calm today. And that is a good sign. I mean, it is just ββ sometimes you get caught up in some things you try to tell yourself to sit back and relax and sometimes it is hard to. I am a human being, and I have emotions just like anybody else and but today coming to the ballpark today I felt very, very calm. During BP I was very relaxed, it is a good sign. It just comes down to just matter of getting a ball to hit, which I did, and that is what happened.
Q. What did you think of the blue angels flying over?
MARK McGWIRE: That was from my good man David Pratt, he called that in. I looked over when they flew over in the owners's box, I pointed to him. He pointed back to me. So I thank David for that.
Q. You talk about getting caught up in the moment, what was the difference between your physical being yesterday, when you looked a little tired and today?
MARK McGWIRE: Actually felt good yesterday. I was just upset that I got two hits taken away from me. I would like to hit 300 and when you have a team that is playing over the line with you over ββ you hit two balls that should be hit, they are diving for and they catch, you know, I take pride in my average, so, I mean, I was a little upset I didn't get two hits, then again with sufficient Major Leaguers out there, they can field like that. I felt fine yesterday.
Q. What did Matt say when you lifted him up in the air?
MARK McGWIRE: Just a little chuckle. That is all. He didn't have to say anything. His eyes say it all.
Q. You seemed like you are getting a little emotional, chasing it so long, now that it has happened, what does it mean to you?
MARK McGWIRE: I mean, what I have done is tied it. I am one swing way from breaking it. When that is going to happen, if it is tomorrow, if it is the next day, we will just have to wait and see, but it has been a long rougher road. I go back all the way to, I don't know, January talking about it into spring training and here we are, tied 61. It has been quite amazing. I think I have amazed myself. I think I have amazed other people. So it is hard not to have emotions for this. Because it is just an unbelievable feat and the thing is Mr. Sosa is close to it too.
Q. Would you talk about your subsequent atβbats and whether any of those you went up thinking home run?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I don't go up there thinking home run. I think about working the count, getting a good pitch to hit and driving to drive it. My second atβbat, third atβbat, Mike threw like a cutter, I went to get it, it just moved on me flew out to center, and my third atβbat, I think it was a slider and it just ββ bottom fell out of it, just hit soft liner center, that is really about it.
Q. When did you think about 62?
MARK McGWIRE: What do you mean? You mean ββ
Q. Now one more?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I mean, I have been thinking about it since I reached the 50 plateau, yeah. But I mean you think about it and then you let it go right out of your mind because you can't ββ you can't waste my brain cells hours on hours about thinking about it because it is a long ways away. Now we are one swing away. So we will just have to wait and see.
Q. What did Tony LaRussa say now in the dugout?
MARK McGWIRE: Tell you the truth, I was on such a high I don't remember, so you are going to have to probably ask him.
Q. The minute after you hit the home run, there was such a buzz in the stadium. Was it difficult for you to let go of the moment?
MARK McGWIRE: I don't think I will ever let go of the moment. I don't think ββ I don't know if I will ever be here again. So how can you let it go? What I have done is fabulous. I am going to enjoy it right now. I know that I am one swing away. You know, the whole time I just thought what a great birthday present for my father. That is all I thought.
Q. Give us the roster of friends and family here today?
MARK McGWIRE: I will keep that private. I have a lot of friends and family and everybody knows my mom and dad, but I will keep that private.
Q. How about birthdays?
MARK McGWIRE: I wish.
Q. When you get into a room all by yourself no one else around ββ
MARK McGWIRE: We are getting personal here, okay. Let's go.
Q. ββ what do you do? (Laughter.)
MARK McGWIRE: I don't know, but I won't tell you.
Q. Would you talk a little bit about the significance of the hug with Tony and the trainer and Barry afterwards?
MARK McGWIRE: Let's face it, Tony gave me my start, you know, back in 1986. I wasn't supposed to make the team in 1987. He decided to stay with me and I remember the night, it was April ββ I think it was April 19 in Anaheim and he stuck with me and next thing you know I hit 49 home runs and he has seen a lot of them. He stuck with me through the year of 1991 when I hit 201.
For Barry β Barry and I have gone through so much through my back injuries through my foot injuries, the only time that Barry and I have been a part is just the two months when I was traded over here last year, so he has seen 400 and plus home runs. I think I got a few more for Tony to reach the 400 plateau. Those two guys have backed me, supported me, just been with me since day 1 in Oakland and here in St. Louis, so thank them a lot.
Q. Could you share any of the things you exchanged with the Maris family after the game?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, they ββ they all thanked me and gave me a hug and I am sure if we were more private I am sure it would have been a little bit more emotional. I said: I would love to meet with them some day when this is all over and to talk to them and basically tell them the feeling what their father was going through at that time because it is an amazing feeling and I would love to sit down and talk to them and have them understand it. I mean, what can I say, thank you for being here and watching this and believe me, he is in my heart.
Q. Does it mean a lot to you that you hit 61 here in St. Louis?
MARK McGWIRE: Yes, it does. Yeah.
Q. We know the next one breaks the record, but what this has felt like today could you imagine what that one would feel like?
MARK McGWIRE: I will let you know when it happens. But I am sure it is just going to be as good or better.
Q. You are going to be linked in history with both Maris and Ruth, are you proud that you will going into history with people that you admire so much?
MARK McGWIRE: Without a doubt. You know, I think I have been talking about this Maris stuff since 1987 when I had 33 home runs. Look at twelve years later, Sammy and I are neck and neck. He has got a great shot at doing it too and I admire him. I admire everything that Roger has gone through because I know what he has gone through now. So, yeah, I am very, very happy to be linked with him.
Q. What will it mean that you have hit 61 home runs in fewer games than Babe Ruth and if you hit 62 in fewer games what would that mean?
MARK McGWIRE: Nobody can say they can put an asterisk on it. I mean, what can I say? It is just ββ I don't know if ββ how do I answer that? It is just ββ I am just swinging the bat and let it happen.
Q. Do you feel like a role model today?
MARK McGWIRE: Yeah, I think so. I think so. It is just ββ I mean the way that athletes are portrayed today as babies that make too much money, don't care about the community, which I think is false β and if somebody wants to link with me as one of those heroes and for young kids to look up to, I am very proud to be associated with that, and I hope children do look up to me like that. So it means a lot.
Q. Being that you have a road trip coming up ahead are you thinking much about tomorrow and setting the record tomorrow?
MARK McGWIRE: Well, I mean like I have said probably 100,000 times, I can only take care of myself; try to get a ball to hit, and get a good swing on it and if it happens tomorrow, if the good Lord lets it happen tomorrow, then it does, but I am going to give it my best shot.
Q. What was going through your mind when the fans gave Sammy the standing ovation?
MARK McGWIRE: Just another example of the best fans in the country here in St. Louis. I am not playing into them. It is just the truth. (Fans cheering in background.)
Q. You talked a lot about your faith in the man upstairs. You had Sosa and left field today ββ right field ββ
MARK McGWIRE: Yeah, I really believe. I believe in fate and I believe in things happening for a reason. I mean, the other day when I hit a home run I mean the balls are marked, and I don't know if you guys ever heard this story but the balls are marked and you know, the thing is it was number three ball. Number three was Babe Ruth, happens to be I am the third guy to hit 60 home runs, I hit it on the third pitch. If that is not fate, I don't know what is, it just happens today is my father's 61st birthday, hit my 61st home run, my son arrives, I mean you can't ask for anything better than that.
Q. Have you gotten the ball yet?
MARK McGWIRE: No, I have been running around with my head cut off, so I don't know.
End of FastScripts