Mike Schmidt on Mark McGwire
On McGwire getting the hitting coach job with St. Louis: “I thought it would be better for me to remain silent. It’s very hard to comment. I’d hate to be in his shoes, having to do what he did. I think he did what he needed to do at the time of his pending job coming as hitting coach with the Cardinals. He needed to clear the air, sort of pave the way for a smoother year for himself. It’s not going to be a smooth by any means. He’s gonna have to talk about it wherever he goes but I’m happy for him. It was a great start for his new career as hitting coach. Probably the one thing it alleviated was any discussion about it within the Cardinals family and camp. The daily workouts at Cardinals camp would’ve been riddled with Mark McGwire talk. In fact, I live five minutes from where he works and it was a big deal when he arrived in town and did his first bit of coaching. I think time will cure that. He’ll settle in, he’ll be their hitting coach. There’ll be some fallout I guess, especially in his travels around the country. You guys are gonna wanna talk to him wherever he goes. When he comes into Philly, I’m sure somebody is going to pose some steroid questions to McGwire everywhere he goes in his travels.
“I think he has a good basis for answering questions now. He’s got the whole admittance off his chest. The only thing I think maybe had he had to do it over again — he did it the way he wanted to do it and he told the truth as he saw it — maybe temper his comments about the steroids and their effect on his performance numbers. He stated that his usage of steroids didn’t help his power output. He may believe that and it may be true, but I don’t think that’s what the public wanted to hear. They probably wanted to hear an admittance that his numbers were increased and his position in history was probably elevated to some degree by the use of steroids.
“Again, I think that’s what the public wanted to hear. He sort of stuck to what he feels in his own mind was and is the truth about it. That would be my only comment. I think Mark will do fine. I’ve heard everything about him that he’s a great student of hitting, got a great sense for the art of hitting, the mechanics of hitting. If I was a young hitter, I couldn’t wait to get in Mark McGwire’s ear.”
On how he feels knowing that McGwire passed him on the home run list: “It never enters my mind really. I made a speech the other night and I talked about … there’s 25 guys in the 500 homer club now. There’s five or six of them that have been associated with or have admitted to a relationship with steroids. It’s just fact. I don’t care one way or another. I don’t have a strong opinion that they shouldn’t be there or that there should be an asterisk involved in their position in history.
I’m just a guy that says that baseball fans … I trust baseball fans to understand the era in which they played. It is what it is. It’s part of life. The game will move on. In 20, 30 years from now, I won’t be here, but we’ll be looking back at it and it’ll be an accepted period of time in history. I don’t know any other opinion to have on it than that one. That’s my opinion.”