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Published:January 25th, 2009 14:04 EST
Blood Brothers: A Scandalous Expose Or A Brother`s Opportunity for Revenge

Blood Brothers: A Scandalous Expose Or A Brother`s Opportunity for Revenge

By Christopher HIllenbrand

From the on-deck circle, he could make out the wound physique of the right fielder in his proud blue Cubbie duds. Busch Stadium rocked on its very foundations by the myriad of rattling plastic cups, wagging giant fingers, and cheers for the sloppy sandwich to step up to the plate.


The date was September 8, 1998. The place was St. Louis, where the magical scene between two baton-wielding titans, in their own rights, courted their mystical escort named destiny. Soon they would both rewrite history books on their feats of the year, but that evening belonged to only one of them.


Mark McGwire, or Big Mac, as fans called him, went through the rounds of his superstitious bat twirling before settling into the stance that would deliver yet another ball into the bleachers. On an 88 MPH fastball from the Cubs` righty Steve Trachsel, Mark pummeled a 375 foot home run into the left field porch: his 62nd of the year and the dinger breaking Roger Maris` home run record set in 1961.


After the greatest celebratory home run jog of his life, McGwire was met by players on both clubs at home plate. Sammy Sosa, the man who had been vying for that most coveted record in baseball, congratulated McGwire with a hug as Mark crossed home. Maris` surviving relatives including his wife and children also greeted him to commend him for breaking the record that stood for 37 years.


Long after the limelight had dwindled from his accomplishment, McGwire retired following the 2001 season on the heels of a season hampered by injuries but failed to evade the public inquiries. Even in retirement, McGwire could never escape the allegations that performance-enhancing drugs were the cause for his success in the majors. After intense crossfire between him and the media, McGwire admitted that he used Androstenedione, but hadn`t known at the time that it was banned.


When Barry Bonds stroked 73 home runs in 2002, shattering McGwire`s mark by 3, the cloud of scrutiny loomed heavier over his head than it had over Big Mac. Though it was never proven, Bonds` rapid physical growth over a several year span certainly appeared in hindsight to be the result of steroid use. On the other hand, McGwire`s transformation had been an inverse: he had lost weight and grew leaner in his upper body before his Herculean march into the record books.


As late as 2005, Mark McGwire, along with other pro-ball players, was required to testify under oath before a Congressional hearing on substance abuse in Major League Baseball. He refused to acknowledge whether or not he used HGH or any other legally banned substance. The following year, former slugger Jose Canseco published an expose implicating McGwire as a steroid user as well as other teammates.


Though Canseco`s claims could never be verified, there have been a few other instances where individuals stepped forward: Jay McGwire, his own brother the most recent. Mark`s estranged brother Jay McGwire came forward with a book proposal detailing his and his brother`s substance abuse. According to his brother, Mark first began using Deca-Durabolin, an anabolic steroid, back in 1994 when Jay first tuned him onto it after using it himself for bodybuilding. He didn`t go into the details as to why they hadn`t spoken ion several years. Jay McGwire proposed his book entitled: The McGwire Family Secret: The Truth about Steroids, a slugger and Ultimate Redemption, to many publishers with no success.


When commented about why he`s shedding light on the topic now, Jay simply stated: ?My bringing the truth to surface about Mark is out of love. I want Mark to live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom " which is the only way to live.`


This could possibly be just an egregiously savage act of reprisal from one sibling to another, or it could be as he said. But whether it`s true or not, it just may determine Mark McGwire`s lasting legacy to be of a flawed hero or a despised scoundrel.