Yeah, I used. It wasn’t banned, there were plenty of others using, it was accepted in clubhouse culture. You may not like knowing it, but you sure enjoyed all those home runs, didn’t you? You got what you wanted, I got what I wanted. (From the Baseball Outsider)
That’s what he could have said. No, that’s not what he did say.
Yeah, Marky did use steroids. He used human growth hormone to build up his body so he could hit more home runs. It wasn’t banned then, and lots of guys were using it. It was part of major league sports and baseball in particular. Only in recent years has it become clear what damage it can do to bodies, and it has been banned.
The thing is, while using steroids, Mark broke the major league home run record set by Roger Maris back in 1961 – 61 home runs in a season. Mark smashed that record with 70 big ones. And if you’ve ever seen a Mark McGuire home run, you know they were big ones! By the way, McGuire’s record was then smashed in short order by Barry Bonds, who hit 74 home runs in a season, also while using the human growth hormone.
As far as we know, Roger Maris never used human growth hormone. Neither did Babe Ruth. Nor, for that matter, did Henry Aaron, as far as we know. So the question is, does the fact that McGuire used steroids negate his home run record? Is he as guilty of “tainting the game” as the 1919 Chicago White Sox, those eight players who were then banned from baseball for life? Or, as some have suggested, does his record deserve a simple asterisk, denoting it as having been set by someone on steroids, and not by someone who was totally “normal”? (Speaking of that, was Babe Ruth ever really “normal”?)
Personally, I wish the “human growth hormone” had never been invented, so it couldn’t “taint” the game. But it was a reality in major league clubhouses for quite some time. It happened, and there’s nothing we can do about that. So what do we do, have separate record books for the guys who used and the guys who didn’t? That ain’t gonna happen.
I hate to say it, but maybe we need asterisks. Put one beside McGuire’s record; one by Bonds’ record; and one by Maris’ record, because he broke Ruth’s record in a season with more games. For that matter, maybe they should put an asterisk by Aaron’s record because he wasn’t caucasian. (Oh no, I guess they would then need two asterisks by Bond’s record!)
What to do? Darned if I know!