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McGwire elated to be a part of Cards' HOF class

MLB.com @AJCassavell

ST. LOUIS -- In retrospect, it's hard for Mark McGwire to believe he only spent 4 1/2 years in St. Louis. He certainly created a lifetime's worth of memories here -- for himself and for Cardinals fans.

On Saturday, he'll create one more, with the Cardinals slated to induct him into their Hall of Fame, along with Tim McCarver and Pepper Martin. The festivities will take place leading up to Saturday's game between the Rays and Cardinals.

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ST. LOUIS -- In retrospect, it's hard for Mark McGwire to believe he only spent 4 1/2 years in St. Louis. He certainly created a lifetime's worth of memories here -- for himself and for Cardinals fans.

On Saturday, he'll create one more, with the Cardinals slated to induct him into their Hall of Fame, along with Tim McCarver and Pepper Martin. The festivities will take place leading up to Saturday's game between the Rays and Cardinals.

View Full Game Coverage

"Four and a half years of my career and my life spent here in St. Louis is technically not too long," McGwire said. "But the way that this fanbase and Cardinal Nation took me in and embraced me -- and really gave me the energy to do what I did here -- and they're paying me back by putting me in the Hall of Fame, it's definitely emotional."

McGwire, now serving as Padres bench coach, won't join the team in Miami until Sunday, with the ceremony slated for Saturday night at Busch Stadium. His entire family will be in attendance.

"My son, Matt, everybody knows as this 10-year-old kid who I put up over my head -- which I can't do anymore," McGwire said with a grin. "He'll be with me, and my wife and my kids, it's going to be very, very special."

McGwire's 70-homer season in 1998 is tops in Cardinals history, and his 65-homer campaign the following year is second. He batted .270/.427/.683 in parts of five seasons with the Cardinals, which included 220 of his 583 career home runs.

Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny was quick to sing the praises of his former teammate.

"Coming off a work stoppage in '94, baseball was still trying to recover," Matheny said. "What Mark and Sammy [Sosa] were able to do [was] put a buzz back in this game that we are still benefitting from. Past that, being able to have a locker right next to him and spend a lot of time with him, on the field and away from it, I have nothing but respect for the person that he is and the things he's been able to do in this game.

"Then, to be on the staff with him, not very often do you see a superstar player that has the humility or the makeup to be the kind of coach that he was. He's taking steps forward as a bench coach now, too. It's pretty impressive to watch."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals