Mark McGwire had little to say about being left out of Cooperstown in his first public comments since the Hall of Fame announcement.
The former slugger talked briefly Saturday to the Cal State Fullerton newspaper, the Daily Titan, about being denied baseball’s highest honor in his first time on the ballot. Amid questions about his role in baseball’s Steroids Era, McGwire was picked by 23.5 percent of voters in totals released Tuesday – far short of the 75 percent needed for induction.
“I had an absolutely wonderful career that I am very proud of,” McGwire said Friday as he signed autographs at a charity event benefiting the Orange County Abuse Prevention Center. “I’m not in control of what happens – I was in control of hitting the ball.”
McGwire, whose 583 home runs rank seventh on the career list, appeared on 128 of a record 545 ballots in voting released by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres and Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles were voted in and will be inducted in July.
McGwire has been reclusive since he appeared in front of Congress two years ago to address steroid use in baseball. The 23.5 percent vote he received represented the first referendum on how history will judge an age when bulked-up players came under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Baseball didn’t ban steroids until after the 2002 season.
McGwire was one of more than two dozen sports personalities on hand for Friday’s event called “Luck be a Lady,” organized by a committee of players’ wives. Among those in attendance were Los Angeles Angels pitcher John Lackey, St. Louis Cardinals infielder Adam Kennedy and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne.
After retiring, McGwire has kept active in charity work, heading the Mark McGwire Foundation for Children.