MLB history: A look back at the 60 home run club

CLEVELAND, OH - 1927: Babe Ruth signing baseball before Indians - Yankees game at League Park. (Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images).
CLEVELAND, OH - 1927: Babe Ruth signing baseball before Indians - Yankees game at League Park. (Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images). /
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(Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP via Getty Images) /

Mark McGwire – 1998, 1999

Major League Baseball desperately needed something to generate fan interest after the devastating strike in 1994 through the beginning of 1995. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (coming up later) were happy to oblige.

McGwire had been a prodigious slugger in the past although injuries had hindered his ability at time. He had eight seasons with over 30 homers in the past, including two consecutive seasons with over 50 homers heading into 1998.

Healthy once again for a full season, McGwire hit the ground running, belting homers in his first four games of the season, and never stopped. Eventually, it became a matter of when, not if, he would break Maris’ record. That moment came in the fourth inning of the Cardinals’ game against the Cubs when he crushed Steve Trachsel’s offering for his 62nd homer on the year. He finished with a flurry, hitting five homers in his last three games, to become the first player in MLB history with 70 homers in a season.

McGwire kept up the impressive power stroke in 1999 as well. He became the first player to hit 60 homers in a season twice and was followed by Sosa later that year. It was, however, the beginning of the end as he could not stay healthy following that season. McGwire appeared in just 186 games over the next two years. While he did hit 62 homers in that time, his body just could not handle the wear and tear any longer.

His home run record came with controversy, even while it was occurring. McGwire had attributed some of his success to his use of Androstendione, which was legal at the time. Jose Canseco later named McGwire as a PED user in his book Juiced, something that McGwire denied for years before coming clean. By then it was too late as his place in MLB history was tarnished.