January 12th, 2010
05:23 PM ET

Mark McGwire doesn't get it

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/01/12/mip.tuesday/story.mark.mcgwire.gi.jpg caption="Former St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire appears at a House hearing on steroid use in March 2005." width=300 height=169]

Jeff Pearlman
Special to CNN

He called the widow of Roger Maris a few days ago, a surprisingly bold move that surely resulted in one of the most awkward phone conversations this side of Bobby Kennedy-George Wallace.

Mark McGwire apparently felt it was the right thing to do.

And, indeed, he was correct. Pat Maris deserved to hear the words "I juiced" straight from the artificially enhanced horse's mouth; deserved to know why she and her family had unwittingly served as his official cardboard props some 12 years ago; why her late husband's single-season home run mark (arguably the most hallowed standard in all of American sports) had been tattered by a man boasting all the integrity of a Times Square pickpocket.

Think back, if you will, to September 8, 1998, when McGwire hit his record-breaking 62nd homer of the season at Busch Stadium, then immediately walked toward the stands to embrace the Maris children. Later, with tears streaming down his cheeks, McGwire told the media how, earlier that day, he had held the bat Roger Maris used when he set the old mark. "I touched it with my heart," he said. "When I did that, I knew tonight was going to be the night. I can say my bat will lie next to his, and I'm damn proud of it."

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Filed under: Baseball • Steriods
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