McGwire's admission leaves Maris family 'disappointed'


Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 10:41 p.m.

The news was hardly surprising for Roger Maris Jr., but it didn't make it sting any less.

Mark McGwire's admission Monday that he used steroids during his career, including the 1998 season when he broke the all-time single-season home run record held by the late Roger Maris, "disappointed" the Maris family.

And there is no doubt in the oldest son's mind who holds the record now.

"(Roger Maris') record should be restored based on the facts that have come out," Roger Jr. said. "In my eyes, he's the home run hitter (of all time)."

Roger Sr., who settled in Gainesville after his baseball career was over, hit 61 homers in 1961. That record held for 37 years until McGwire smashed it in '98 in an epic home run duel with Chicago's Sammy Sosa.

The drama of that summer may have saved baseball, but more than a decade later the chase to eclipse Maris' record is tarnished by revelations about the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Maris' record has been broken six times by three players, all of whom have been linked to PEDs.

Much of the talk on sports talks shows Tuesday was about whether the record should be restored. McGwire hit 65 homers in 1999. Sosa also passed Maris in 1998 with 66 home runs. Sosa hit 63 homers a year later and 64 in 2001.

Barry Bonds now holds the record with his 73 hit in 2001 when he played for San Francisco.

Bonds and Sosa's achievements are also tainted by evidence and/or accusations that they used performance-enhancing drugs.

The Maris family spent time with McGwire during the '98 season and was at St. Louis' Busch Stadium when he broke the record. McGwire finished that season with 70 home runs.

"I guess my reaction would be disappointed," said Roger Jr. "I guess I wasn't surprised that was the result. But I was disappointed. We like Mark. But it's disappointing that it happened the way it did."

McGwire said Monday he used steroids to keep his body healthy in order to remain in the lineup, not to break records.

McGwire said he called Pat Maris, Roger Sr.'s widow, to apologize Monday.

"I felt that I needed to do that," McGwire said in an MLB Network interview. "They've been great supporters of mine. She was disappointed and she has every right to be."

Roger Jr. said, "He said, 'This is Mark McGwire. I just wanted to let you know that some big news is coming out. I confessed to using steroids. I want to apologize to you and your family and to Roger.' She feels bad for Mark, that he put himself in that situation. She feels hopefully something good will come of it."

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com.

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