Dodgers batting coach Mark McGwire, shown with the St. Louis Cardinals… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
PHOENIX — If Mark McGwire had a Hall of Fame ballot, for whom would he have voted?
McGwire wouldn’t say.
“I don’t vote,” McGwire said.
Asked if he would have voted for Barry Bonds, McGwire sidestepped the question.
“I really don’t have opinions on a lot of things,” McGwire said. “Barry Bonds was quite a ballplayer. He was pretty damn awesome. That’s all I can say.”
McGwire, who was at the Dodgers’ winter development camp as the team’s new hitting coach, was polite but diplomatic when asked about about the fact that no players were elected to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
“They have their guidelines,” McGwire said. “They’re going to stick by their guidelines.”
Reminded that the voting was conducted by baseball writers who each set their own guidelines, McGwire replied, “I can’t speak for them. I can speak for myself. Listen, that’s the way things are going to be and we have to accept it.”
McGwire was on the ballot for a seventh time. He received votes on 16.9% of the 569 votes cast, far short of the 75% necessary for election.
McGwire ranks 10th all-time with 583 career home runs, but has admitted to using steroids.
McGwire said he accepts not being a Hall of Famer. But asked if he considered himself a Hall of Famer or a Hall of Fame-caliber player, he replied, “That’s a good question. That’s for other people to make a decision. They’re pretty good numbers, though.”
After testifying in front of Congress in 2005, McGwire stayed out of the public eye until he returned to baseball as a coach with the St. Louis Cardinals five years later.
McGwire denied that he was in self-imposed exile.
“You know what it’s called? It’s called retirement. The problem is with players today, once they retire they go back into TV or do something. They don’t retire. I was out and about all the time. I was just retired.”
Scandal might have tarnished his memorable 1998 season, but McGwire said he still looks back fondly on his home run chase with Sammy Sosa. McGwire hit 70 home runs that year to set a new single-season standard. Sosa swatted 66.
“Fantastic times,” he said. “It was a good time. It was a lot of hard work. It wasn’t easy to do.”
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