Hank Aaron Forgives McGwire, Others Still Angry


Hank Aaron, the true home run king of baseball, thinks the Mark McGwire story will pass. He’s glad to see McGwire back in baseball and hopes more former players come out so baseball can move on. Aaron has to be the classiest person in baseball. He keeps his distance, says all the right things, and judges no one. When Barry Bonds broke his record, Aaron congratulated Bonds in a video presentation. Most thought he should do nothing or if anything call the slugger out. But Aaron smiled and let Barry have his night.

History will remember whose record it really is. Aaron knows that. He also knows that angry quotes and ideas won’t help baseball solve the steroid problem. All he and others can do is hope steroids are behind the game. The game can’t move on until the players of the era do. McGwire finally did. Before his admission, he was in hiding and definitely stuck in the past. He didn’t want to talk about it because he was living in it. And it was painful. He cheated the game he loved, the teammates who trusted him, and the fans that fought for him through all the accusations. He was living a lie. Now, McGwire can breathe easier. He even smiles at the ballpark while working with Cards hitters.

Others should take notice. At least admitting usage allows you to move on. Yes, you’ll get hammered for a few weeks and you may get funny looks the rest of the way. But it’s better than getting hammered, getting funny looks, and living uncomfortably to uphold your records and playing career. Most notably, Sammy Sosa needs to come clean. The Cubs power hitter was McGwire’s partner in 1998 and he certainly used something. Now, Sammy just needs to admit it. He is a lovable character with that smile and personality, and he can be again if he tells the truth. Sosa was every bit as, if not more impressive than McGwire. He hit 60 homers in three seasons and was awarded the 1998 NL MVP over Mac. Sosa captivated Wrigley, the Dominican Republic, and the nation. He should still be involved. He shouldn’t be going to events with slicked hair and green contacts. Just be the guy you were in 1998, be the fun-loving ballplayer. And America will forgive you. Not forget, but at this point you’re guilty in the court of public opinion anyway.

McGwire still hasn’t won everyone over. He let down a lot of people. He killed the game. But the apology was good for him. He needed it to live his life. Others can still have opinions and hate what he did to the game.

Senator Ryan McKenna of Crystal City is among the angry fans let down by McGwire. McKenna battled for a part of I-70 to be named after the “heroic” slugger following his amazing 1998 season. The highway was eventually named Mark McGwire Highway. Now, the senator wants McGwire’s name wiped off the highway. He said McGwire shouldn’t be honored when he shamed the game. The mistake needs to be fixed. It was originally “Mark Twain highway” and many called for a change before the admission because it was widely known that he used PEDs. I agree with the senator that it should be changed. McGwire doesn’t deserve to be idolized or respected as a baseball hero.

So, the admission has its drawbacks, but I doubt McGwire is losing any sleep about a highway sign. The 10 years after his retirement and maybe even years before that were likely filled with sleepless nights. Now, he can sleep and enjoy life with his family and on the diamond again.

Let’s reserve the highway signs and statues for Hank Aaron and other legends. Aaron is a true hero of the game. And he proves it every time he is back in the limelight, even if only for a few days. His legacy, though, will shine forever.