Mark McGwire remains an Oakland A’s legend. Considered to be the best player in franchise history that has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame, McGwire is still remembered for his impressive home runs and the formidable pair he and Jose Canseco were in the middle of the lineup in the 1980s and into the 1990s.
McGwire is also credited with saving baseball. His home run chase, and his battling Sammy Sosa, captivated a nation. When he broke Roger Maris‘ single season record, it was a cause for celebration. Baseball was back, and it had been carried, in part, on McGwire’s brawny shoulders.
A Hall of Fame case for Mark McGwire
When McGwire retired at the end of the 2001 season, he was expected to end up in Cooperstown once he became eligible. While he only had 1626 hits in his career, his .263/.394/.588 batting line and 583 homers were more than enough to ensure induction. Add in what he meant to the game, and there was no question that he would be immortalized.
That ended when McGwire was linked to PED usage. While he denied using PEDs for years, he eventually came clean. That usage hurt his chances on the ballot, as he never received more than 23.7% of the vote.
But times may be changing. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two players how have been linked to PEDs, have gotten close to being inducted. David Ortiz is expected to be enshrined in Cooperstown and he was named in the Mitchell Report as a PED user. Attitudes are beginning to change when it comes to some of these players.
That may be the case with McGwire as well. While he has the scarlet letter as a PED user, no one can question that he helped save the game. Major League Baseball profited off of his impressive run in 1998 and 1999, making him one of the faces of the game.
The Hall of Fame has taken into consideration what players have meant in the history of the game. Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil were inducted, in large part, because of their historic places in baseball. McGwire may not have fundamentally changed the game, but no one can argue that he did not make a profound impact on the health of the majors after the disastrous strike in 1994.
Mark McGwire is the best Oakland A’s player that has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Maybe that will change in the coming years.