Mark McGwire’s number isn’t retired at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, but for the last 15 years, it might as well have been.
No St. Louis player has worn McGwire’s No. 25 jersey since he retired in 2001, perhaps as a sign of respect for the power-hitting first baseman. But that changed Friday when the Cardinals introduced their newest player, outfielder Dexter Fowler.
Fowler, who signed with St. Louis in free agency on a reported five-year, $82.5 million contract, said in his introductory press conference he chose No. 25 as an homage to his mentor, Barry Bonds. The 30-year-old also couldn’t have chosen No. 24, which he wore with the Chicago Cubs last season, because the Cardinals retired it for Whitey Herzog.
So, should St. Louis have given the same treatment for McGwire? The prolific slugger, after all, is the franchise’s all-time leader in slugging percentage and OPS and clubbed a then-record 70 home runs during the 1998 season.
The obvious counter-argument is that McGwire admitted to using steroids, which puts an asterisk next to many of his stats, especially in St. Louis. The 12-time All-Star has yet to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame after 10 years on the ballot, and while he’ll get one more chance in 2017, his induction seems unlikely.
As for the Cardinals retiring McGwire’s number, Fowler taking No. 25 appears to have settled that debate.
Thumbnail photo via screenshot from Twitter/@Cardinals