Home run #: 25
Date: May 25
Opponent: Colorado Rockies
Location: Busch Stadium
Pitcher: John Thomson
Runners on: 0
Distance: 433 feet
End of day Sammy Sosa total: 11
End of day Ken Griffey Jr. total: 18
The number 25 never has been retired in St. Louis, given the suspicions and eventual confirmation of Mark McGwire‘s steroid use. It wasn’t given out for a while, but it finally came back into use when McGwire returned to coach. After he left for the Dodgers, David Bell picked it up as a coach as well before Dexter Fowler became the first player to wear it since McGwire left when he signed for the 2017 season. That said, the number is still closely tied to Big Mac because he wore it during this campaign.
It also has a different meaning, one we referenced yesterday. When McGwire went yard against the Rockies for #25, it set the record for most home runs before June 1. It was another mark that Barry Bonds took down in 2001, but it’s still worth noting that McGwire’s number put him in the record books, which would not be the last time there were some interesting numerical connections in this historical season.
As for the game, there really wasn’t much to talk about. Mike Busby had the Cards in quite a hole before they even got a chance to bat. It was the year of the Blake Street Bombers and they put it on Busby to start the game. After Neifi Perez and Ellis Burks got out, the big guys got to work. Future Cardinal Larry Walker doubled, Vinny Castilla was hit by a pitch, and Todd Helton walked to load the bases for Dante Bichette, who promptly unloaded them with a three-run double.
The Rockies took that 3-0 lead to the bottom of the frame, where Ron Gant grounded out and Delino Deshields struck out. That brought up McGwire against John Thomson, who was in the second year of what would be a fairly undistinguished ten year career. Thomson came into this game with a 6.47 ERA and had given up six homers in 48.2 innings.
Make it seven in 49. After starting McGwire off with a ball, he got the big redhead to swing through a pitch to even the count. After a foul ball, Thomson missed the plate to bring it to 2-2. Then he came in to McGwire, and well, that went the way you’d expect.
That was the highlight of the game. Busby would give up another run when Thomson would get him for a single and Burks would double him home, then leave in the fifth when he felt something in his elbow. He’d not pitch again in the big leagues until September and never made another start.
Rockies got another in the seventh on an RBI double by Walker versus Sean Lowe and one in the eighth when Jeff Reed had an RBI single against Curtis King. That was it as McGwire popped out, lined out, and then drew a walk in the eighth. A fairly uneventful loss for the Cards, marked only by Mark.