So even as a priest, you--
"As a priest I recognize that people are human and make mistakes."
So then you do realize, Father, that--
"Look. You're talking to a fan. An irrational Giants fan. I'm sad for Barry if he did it. But I still think he's a wonderful baseball player."
WHAT ABOUT the heartland? All those people around me on that climactic Labor Day weekend in St. Louis, vowing that they'd return the ball if it fell into their hands because Big Mac's and the game's integrity meant more to them than the hundreds of thousands of dollars to be reaped by selling those balls ... and then, one after another, living up to their word? How must they feel now?
It occurs to me that I could ask them, that I'd scribbled down names and phone numbers back in those innocent, intoxicating days, then tucked the notepads away in the rafters of my garage.
I call Deni Allen. He was just out of college when he snagged number 60, the one that tied the Babe's single-season record, and the words poured from him that day. He's a 29-year-old corporate sponsorship manager for the St. Louis Rams now. "I'd do the same thing again," he vows.
But what about Canseco's book, I ask, and the needles in the backside in the bathroom stall?
"I prefer to make no comment."
I CALL 61. Mike Davidson, the fan who retrieved the homer that tied Roger Maris's single-season record, delivered it to McGwire and then hurried home to bed so he could arise at 4 a.m. for his job slicing cold cuts and vegetables. He was 28 then. He's busy now putting to bed the son born later that year. "I'd still give it back to Big Mac," he says. "I met the man. I looked him in the eye. I still consider him the home run king. He's not like Barry Bonds."