Ask any Cardinals fan about 1998. It's a season they'll never forget. They had a front-row seat to one of the most thrilling and entertaining individual performances in sports history: Mark McGwire's pursuit to break Roger Maris' Major League single-season home run record.
The excitement wasn't limited only to St. Louis fans, McGwire was joined in his quest to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record by Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa and Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. By the 1998 All-Star Break, it became clear that all three players had a legitimate chance to surpass Maris' single-season home run total of 61. What became known as the 1998 Home Run Race remains one of the most exhilarating and emotionally-charged periods in baseball history.
#BigMacFlashback - Looking back at Mark McGwire's Record-Breaking Season
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Home Run Race that ultimately concluded with Mark McGwire belting 70 homers while establishing a new MLB single-season home run record. This anniversary, along with McGwire's induction into the Cardinals Hall of Fame last August, provides the perfect opportunity to look back at one of the most memorable seasons in baseball history.
All season long, we will share content on our social media channels that helps fans relive the 1998 Home Run Race; including videos of all 70 of Big Mac's home runs, real-time updates on the home run count of McGwire, Sosa and Griffey Jr. and fan images that convey the excitement of that amazing season. We hope you will share your memories of this special time that transcended sports and captivated fans throughout our nation.
Share Your #BigMacFlashback Memory
Please share your Big Mac Flashback with us!
Were you responsible for one of the many flash bulbs that lit up Busch every time #25 came to bat? Were you there to witness one of McGwire's home runs? Were you in the stands when Big Mac hit home run #62 or #70? Did you get down to Busch Stadium hours before the start of the game just to watch Mark take batting practice? If you were there for any part of it, we want to hear from you!
We are asking fans to share their photos, memorabilia, stories and experiences from the historic 1998 season as the fan perspective is an important part of this historic time in baseball. We want to share those photos with a new generation of fans, so we need your help.
Share your favorite #BigMacFlashback memories with us using our online Memories submission form. Throughout the season, we will share fan photos with all of Cardinals Nation in the hope that we can help tell the story of the how the 1998 home run race brought fans together and inspired a renaissance of our National Pastime.
Mark McGwire Biography
Full Name: Mark David McGwire
Born: October 1, 1963 in Pomona, California
Height: 6'5" Weight: 250 Bats: Right Throws: Right
Years with Cardinals: 1997-2001
Position: First Base Number: 25
Inducted into Cardinals Hall of Fame: 2017
Acquired: Via trade from the Oakland Athletics for pitchers T.J. Mathews, Eric Ludwick and Blake Stein on July 31, 1997
Submitted by Sarah Zeagler:
My husband & I moved to St. Louis in May 1997 so he could attend Logan Chiropractic. We went to our first Cardinals game in April '98. I was a couple of months pregnant with our 1st child, Cole. Lamaze classes began on Tuesdays in August. Jon came home one day & told me that his professor gave him 2 tickets to the game on Tuesday, Sept. 8th. He was so excited. That was the night they were projecting McGwire would break the home run record. We couldn't go because of Lamaze class! We walked in class on the 8th with 10 couples. Several men brought their radios to listen to the game. The hospital had a room with a TV & every time Big Mac came up to bat, we waddled down the hall to watch! We were so disappointed that we missed seeing it in person, but the funny part of the story was that Cole was born 2 weeks late by c-section! Cole grew up a huge McGwire fan, wearing #25 from the age of 4 until high school. He played first base & tried his best to emulate Big Mac's swing.
Submitted by: Jason Cunningham
My McGwire story begins at the end of the 1997 season when I saw Nos. 56-57, which at the time seemed to foretell something special was to come. But as for 1998, I was in college and didn't have a lot of scratch available. I was fortunate to buy bleacher seats for eight games ($6 a piece). That year I saw five of McGwire's homers live, none more memorable than No. 1, a grand slam on Opening Day against the Dodgers. The image is seared in my memory - from our right field seats, the entire stadium standing and cheering in anticipation, and watching his arcing shot out to left. A storybook moment. I was also at his three homer game against Arizona, which happened to be the Cards inaugural game versus the Diamondbacks. I just missed one of the historical homers as I went to the Sept. 6 game against the Reds - he hit No. 60 the day before and No. 61 the day after. It was a magical time, and in many ways more enjoyable than some of the successful team seasons that followed in the 2000s.
Submitted by: Kristen Rosenbeck
September 5th, 1998--our wedding day. With a day full of preparations, there wasn't time to watch an afternoon baseball game. The first thing the minister said after I walked down the aisle? "Before we get started, I wanted to let you know that McGwire has hit his 60th home run." I let out a cheer and high five with my groom and the wedding ceremony began!
Submitted by: Scott Long
I was 14 during the HR race and the only thing that mattered in life was Cardinals baseball. My dad brought me to the game on Sun, Sep 27th, 1998. To say the atmosphere was electric is an understatement. People were there to see the new HR King go where no man had gone before. Could he reach 70? We had seats in left field, a few rows above the party boxes. Home Run 69 landed just a few rows behind us. It sank in that I could actually have a chance at getting HOME RUN #70. The place was going nuts. McGwire dug in for his final at bat. The buzz in the air was unlike anything I had ever witnessed. McGwire sat on a 1st pitch fastball and crushed it.....right at my section! I had just seconds to react. I ran from my seat two rows back to the railing, leaned over and the ball went no more than three feet under my glove into the party box below us. Even though I didn't catch it, I was on top of the world. I got to watch # 70 with my dad!
Submitted by: Tim Sater
I shot photos of Mark McGwire during the 70 home run season. I shot home runs #61, #67, #68, #69 and #70 on medium format film (hi res). MLB heard about my photos and eventually contracted me for #70 (note the ball in the warning track, at the feet of the ball boy). The photo was published in the 2000 MLB book, "Going, Going, Gone; The History, Lore, and Mystique of the Home Run." It was also in, "Baseball: A Celebration," published in 2001. The Sporting News told me that had they known about the image of #70, it would have been included in the book about the 1998 season, "70".
Submitted by: Joseph Patterson
The 1998 season was one of the most exciting to date. Even though it is shrouded in controversy now, at the time it resurrected Baseball after the strike several years earlier. I was fresh out of Art School at the time and was inspired to paint a life-sized portrait of Big Mac breaking Roger Maris' record.
Submitted by: Travis Sorenson
This is a shirt I bought when I lived in Missouri. It allows you to mark off when Big Mac hit his homers up to 62. My brother and I decided to color in the boxes of games we attended. My favorite was probably his 3 Homer game against the Diamondbacks. We sat down and he hit his first about 30 seconds later. Also, I got to be there when he rocked an extra innings blast off of Billy Wagner to win the game. Wagner thought he could get 3 fastballs past a slumping McGwire. He was wrong. It landed about 2 rows above Big Mac Land. One the most exciting summers of my life and I was only 12!
Submitted by: Jonathan Pierson
On May 1st, 1998 my family and I went to the Cardinals vs. Cubs game in Wrigley Field getting our first glimpse of Mark McGwire and the home run chase. We got there early to see batting practice (which was a show unto itself) and enjoyed the game as McGwire hit #12 of the season. Later in the summer we traveled to St. Louis to see more games and for the road trip, I bought a sports magazine that had McGwire on the cover. As I read the article there was a photo of him hitting batting practice at Wrigley. I thought to look closer at the photo and to my surprise I found my brother in the background! Later my dad found the rest of us. My dad contacted the photographer and we got close up prints. That was a great surprise and a special memory of that record-setting season!
Submitted by: Jonathan Pierson
On June 8th, 1998 my family and I went to see the Cardinals vs. the White Sox in Chicago to catch McGwire and the home run race. We arrived early for batting practice and I got down to the Cardinals dugout in a prime spot hoping for an autograph from the man himself! During batting practice one of the groundskeepers threw me a ball (to date the only ball I have ever gotten at a game)! To my surprise and disbelief as McGwire finished warming up he started walking straight towards me. He seemed like a giant. I nervously handed him the ball and he signed it! To top it off McGwire later hit home run #29 that game and made a young Cardinals fan dream come true!
Submitted by: Jim Plaza
I was 11 years old in 1998, and the McGwire/Sosa race was one of my first vivid Cardinals memories. Living in Chicago and without cable TV or the Internet at the time, the only way I was able to follow the Cardinals was by watching the series' against the Cubs on WGN or by hoping for a clear night in the summer to be able to get KMOX on the radio. On September 25, we had a family birthday party for my youngest brother, who was turning 7. Most of my family, with the exception of my dad, my youngest brother, and me, are Cubs fans and were gathered around the TV in the kitchen watching Sosa hit his 66th HR to take the lead in the race. I, however, was sitting outside in my parents' conversion van listening to a crackly play by play of the Cardinals game against the Expos. Not long after Sosa hit his home run, McGwire hit his 66th as well, and I proceeded to sprint into the house yelling and screaming. It has to be one of the top baseball fandom moments of my lifetime.
Submitted by: Matt Ourth
Only game we went to all year was on September 8th. My stepdad and I had to pick a game to go in mid-July. We had one shot. We have family members who once the record was close to being broken they could go to multiple games until he hit it. We were getting tickets from someone and had to decide mid-summer! We decided on September 8th. I remember after he hit 61 the game before in his first at bat, we were listening to the radio and I was cheering AGAINST a Big Mac HR...it felt wrong but so right all at the same time. The picture is of my sister Nik and I at 62. I was 13 and 20 years later remember it all like it was yesterday! Shortest HR of the year it all happened so fast. UNBELIEVABLE! What an amazing summer that was. Thanks for all the memories for a boy at that perfect baseball loving age of 13 when I hung on every pitch and every at bat of Big Mac!
Submitted by: Joshua Hughes
I was a sailor on the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and for most of the MLB season, we had been out to sea for 2-3 weeks at a time to prep for the upcoming deployment. I followed the game, when I could myself, and from my parents back home in central Illinois. As McGwire and Sosa zeroed in on 62, we happened to be pulling back into Norfolk and, although 9/8/98 was a duty night (24 hours onboard for me), the game was piped into the ship and I watched it from the anchoring station. As McGwire again came to the plate against Steve Trachsel, another guy I watched it with was called to do something, and I told him he should wait through the AB. He did, and McGwire hit his shortest/biggest HR. We screamed, yelled, hugged as I ran around the anchoring station in my greasy dungarees. After the on field celebration I ran from forward to aft screaming, "McGwire broke the record!!" It was one of the most amazing nights I ever had onboard. It connected me to home.
Submitted by: Josh Lukin
Mark McGwire's great home run chase of 1998 is the reason I met my wife! 1998 was my freshman year of college and growing up, above all other teams, I was a Mark McGwire fan. I followed every HR from his rookie season in Oakland to his time in St. Louis and when I moved in to my dorm at Syracuse University, a McGwire poster was among the first items to go up on my wall. Of course he broke the record a few weeks later and little did I know, an aspiring television producer on the floor above me hung up the newspaper clipping from the record breaking moment in her dorm. Months later, mutual friends noticed the similarities and made the McGwire-based introduction. The rest is history. We began dating in 1999. Got married in 2005 (and our rabbi even mentioned McGwire during the ceremony)! We ended up working in baseball together and now, 20 years after #70, we have 2 kids and have been married for 13 years! All I can say is Thank You Mark, from the whole family.