He never was Mark McGwire. Maybe he can be Ron Vaughn. Nelson operates Hit One Deep hitting camps in the San Gabriel Valley and gives private lessons to kids as young as eight. "Keep it simple and keep it positive, like Ron" is how he describes his method. Over the last two years he has written to 25 major league teams, asking about a job as a scout. He has received 25 rejections, most of them form letters. There must be a million Baseball Joes out there.
As McGwire stepped to the plate, with Robertson listening in his car and Nelson watching at home, Vaughn was following the game on TV in the press box of Edison International Field in Anaheim. He was working, of course—sent on a rare assignment to scout a major league team, to file reports on the Angels. Then, after the Minnesota Twins finished batting practice, the fans let out a cheer. All over the country, anybody who knew or saw what had just happened in St. Louis had to smile. No one, though, smiled as knowingly as Vaughn. His star pupil, the former pitcher, had become the first major leaguer to hit 62 home runs. And he had done it in the uniform of Vaughn's beloved Cardinals, the uniform of Musial, another pitcher turned hitter, who played his last game in the week McGwire was born.
"It's like a fairy tale," Vaughn says eight more McGwire homers later. "It's unreal. Some people thought somebody might break Roger Maris's record someday. But by nine? Maris broke the record by one. That's how you break records. But nine"?
"And who am I? I'm just some guy nobody knows. And Mark goes on TV and gives me credit. Most players don't do that. It just goes to show you the kind of man he is. It was a great feeling watching him break the record. It was almost like watching someone in my own family do it."