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Brandon 11-12-2001 12:50 AM

Mark McGwire Retires

Just 17 homers short of 600, Mark McGwire has called it quits.

McGwire announced Sunday that he will not return to the Cardinals next season and that his baseball career is over.

McGwire struggled with injuries all last season, hitting only .187 with 29 homers in 97 games. He strongly hinted several times over the course of his struggles that he was considering retirement, and Cards manager Tony La Russa said he expected the slugger to hang up his cleats.

This spring, McGwire agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension, but La Russa said McGwire never signed the document. The extension technically would pay McGwire $14 million next year and $16 million in 2003, with much of it deferred.

"After a considerable discussion with those close to me, I have decided not to sign the extension, as I am unable to perform at a level equal to the salary the organization would be paying me," McGwire said in a statement. "I believe I owe it to the Cardinals and the fans of St. Louis to step aside, so a talented free agent can be brought in as the final piece of what I expect can be a World Championship-caliber team."

According to the Post-Dispatch, McGwire is trying to recruit free-agent first baseman Jason Giambi to St. Louis to take his place. "(Giambi's agent Arn Tellem) said McGwire did a great selling job," Cards GM Walt Jocketty told the Post-Dispatch, referring to Giambi's interest in St. Louis. Giambi, considered to be among the most-sought free agents, hit .342 with 38 homers and 120 RBI for the Oakland Athletics last season.

La Russa, who has managed McGwire for all but one year since McGwire broke into the major leagues in 1986, is among those who believes McGwire still can play. McGwire has 583 career home runs, fifth on the career list.

"But who knows what he goes through better than him?" La Russa said. "Nobody deals with the frustration he does. Nobody deals with the rehabilitation and nobody deals with the expectations that he does."

McGwire labored through the 2000 season with a bad right knee, missing virtually all of the second half. He had surgery to correct patella tendinitis but again struggled with the knee this season.

McGwire played in four of the Cardinals' five playoff games and was 1-for-11 with six strikeouts and a double-play grounder.
Well he provided many great moments and a great season for baseball with his home runs. But I agree, it his time to step away. I'm thinking this is where Giambi will be headed, if the Cardinals pony up enough money.

bostonsportsfan 11-12-2001 02:03 AM

Yeah, it was his time to step away. He had a great career, but the knee injury was really affecting him.

I'll always remember the awesome HR race in '98 and the amazing power display he put on in the '99 HR Derby at Fenway.

catman 11-12-2001 02:27 AM

I will miss Mac. He was my favorite 1B of all times. He has provided me with lots of thrills, even though he always played for the competition when I saw him play in person. Baseball has lost a true warrior.
By the way, did you realize that he broke his bat on his 7th swing in the 99 home run derby? The rest of the swings were with a broken bat. Truly amazing.

lmanchur. 11-12-2001 09:24 AM

Yeah, I'll miss McGwire, too..... I think I almost kinda like his "100% pure brute strength"-type strength better than Barry Bonds' nice, fluent swing.... I sure won't be forgetting McGwire's HR #62 in 1998 no matter if anyone breaks that record yet again next season.

Nate 11-12-2001 11:35 AM

As much as he will be missed, I think it is the right thing to do. His injuries were not helping matters any. He has had an awesome career!

Brandon 11-12-2001 02:22 PM

Mark McGwire helped save baseball. He will in most likelihood be a hall of famer. However, in the past year, it seemed to me that he opened his mouth a little bit too much, in my opinion. Through the playoffs it seemed like he kept hinting at retirement, focusing some attention to him taht should have been on the team. And also when the Terrorist attacks occured, it seemed like he was almost too vocal in his opinion. Not that he shouldn't have said those things, I just don't think it was the most constructive way to go about it.

Then again those are my thoughts. And I still respect him, after all the charity work and things he's done for the community and baseball.

Mike Round 11-12-2001 03:42 PM

Good point Brandon.
Mac made some pretty dumb comments after Sept 11 that made Selig look an idiot - as if he needs help doing that! Not Mac's finest hour.
I'll miss him though - he was a class act in a classless era in baseball - and sports in general. A team player with respect for the game, his team mates, the opposition and the traditions of the best game on earth.
Be nice to see him stay in the game in some capacity.

bostonsportsfan 11-12-2001 03:47 PM

The 2006 HOF Class is going to be a great one. Ripken, Gwynn, and McGwire.

Marc 11-12-2001 04:36 PM

I am sad to see the end of such a great, historic career. McGwire is the kind of player you tell future generations about. He brought so much to the game, and as others mentioned, he is mainly responsible for helping bring baseball back in the late '90s. While I will miss him, I do think it was the right thing to do. He was worn out both physically and mentally.

Anyone hear that he is trying to woo Jason Giambi to replace him? He is leaving the Cards with a good amount of money to sign a free agent and he has said they are one big-time hitter like Giambi away from a World Championship.

bostonsportsfan 11-12-2001 05:44 PM


Originally posted by mjames
....and he has said they are one big-time hitter like Giambi away from a World Championship.
I definitley agree with that statement. If the Cards can sign Giambi, they would have a great team.

Their pitching is solid, with Matt Morris, Darryl Kile, Rick Ankiel (hopefully), Woody Williams, Bud Smith, Steve Kline, and Dave Veres.

The hitting is also solid with J.D. Drew, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and Fernando Vina, but like Big Mac said, they could use another big-time hitter like Giambi.

Brandon 11-12-2001 07:00 PM

Personally, the only thing I think the Cardinals would be lacking if they got Giambi would be a bullpen, namely a closer. Veres wasn't flashy, and got the job done most of the time. But not enough for a championship club. If the Cardinals are serious about winning now, maybe a trade for Troy Percival would be in order.

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