Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

October 11, 2013

Big Mac is back: McGwire holds court in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — Mark McGwire was back in his element, holding court in St. Louis.

Most major league coaches do their jobs in virtual anonymity behind the scenes. McGwire, however, is no ordinary hitting instructor and his homecoming is a juicy, natural subplot in this NL championship series.

Once a star slugger for the Cardinals and later their batting coach, McGwire now serves in that role with the Los Angeles Dodgers on manager Don Mattingly's staff. So on Thursday evening, none of the players on either team received nearly as much attention at Busch Stadium.

A swarm of reporters surrounded Big Mac near the batting cage before the Dodgers' workout. He noticed the boom mike that hovered over the crowd and repeated answers to the second and third waves.

When talk turned to the best-of-seven NLCS, which begins Friday night in St. Louis, McGwire said he wasn't surprised the Cardinals stand in the way of the Dodgers' drive for their first pennant in a quarter-century.

"You know what? I think everybody figured you're going to have to go through St. Louis to get to the World Series,'' McGwire said. "Here we are. It's going to be a good series.''

Compared to his heyday, McGwire judged the gathering small. He still has in-laws in the area and said they'll be "sitting in red seats but wearing blue.''

McGwire knows Cardinals hitters well after spending the previous three seasons with them, and agrees with St. Louis manager Mike Matheny that his familiarity could prove useful.

"You can go through that clubhouse and realize that he's got his fingerprint on quite a few of them,'' Matheny said. "I was blown away at how a superstar player can also be a superstar coach.''

Before leaving for the West Coast to take a job closer to home, McGwire said he predicted stardom for Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter, who had a breakout season this year and became an All-Star. McGwire's successor, John Mabry, felt the same way.

"I'd have to say he's going to be in the talks for the MVP,'' McGwire said about Carpenter. "I'm very, very proud of him. A hard worker. He's just a baseball rat.''

It is McGwire's second trip this season to St. Louis, where he's always been a fan favorite. The former All-Star first baseman was instantly welcomed back from his baseball exile, which stemmed from steroid use that tainted his record-breaking home run feats.

The reception was warm in August, although McGwire is a bit curious about the greeting he'll get when the Dodgers line up for pregame introductions Friday night.

"It'll be interesting,'' McGwire said. "It'll be really fun.''

McGwire praised Carpenter's emergence, and said Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez never needed much help.

"I worked with a couple guys over there that are pretty good, but Hanley's devastating,'' McGwire said. "He's on another planet.

"I don't think anybody hits the ball harder.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0292web.jpg ‘All-State Sluggers’

    When Claremore’s Matt Whatley takes his place behind the plate tonight in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Large School East-West All-State baseball game, the former Zebra catcher will be right at home.
    Whatley, who started four years as the catcher for the Zebras, finds his final high school baseball game taking place in his future college ballpark.
    Last November, Whatley and his long-time friend, Bryce Howe, signed NCAA Division I baseball scholarships to play for the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles.
    Tonight, those dreams come true for Whatley and Jenks outfielder Cadon Owens, who will be joining his former Bearcats teammate on the East squad. Also, Verdigris' Ryan Skalnik will start at third base for the Large East All-State team.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GOLF: OSU's Jelly wins Oklahoma State Amateur

    Oklahoma State's Brendon Jelley captured the Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship on Wednesday with a 1-up victory over Preston Crawford at The Patriot Golf Club.

    July 29, 2014

  • OSU wrestling to host Alumni Reunion

    Oklahoma State wrestling will host an alumni reunion for former Cowboy wrestlers, trainers and managers on Sept. 19-20 in Stillwater.

    July 29, 2014

  • OU's Mixon claims self defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sooners' secondary gets ready for changes

    There’s a reason Oklahoma is the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 Conference and a front-runner to get a spot in the first College Football Playoff.

    The experience – especially on defense – is the leading cause.

    July 29, 2014

  • SOFTBALL: Adair aiming high in 2014

    Adair's Lady Warriors have never shied away from the spotlight.

    Head coach Chell Looney's team will have plenty of chances to earn respect and a shot at the program's third straight regional tournament appearance.

    July 29, 2014

  • Cat Conti earns her stripes as football official

    Cat Conti never played sports, let alone had any interest in them, when she was growing up in Southern California. She wanted to be a Hollywood star.

    July 29, 2014

  • Fitzgerald: Union push unified Northwestern

    No matter how this season unfolds, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald insisted there is no more unified team than his Wildcats.

    For that, he credits the push for them to unionize.

    July 29, 2014

  • NFL: Make or break season for Rams QB Bradford

    It's become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.

    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he's supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 29, 2014