Does he think McGwire was clean? "Well, he went up there [before Congress on March 17] and didn't deny it, but he didn't say he did it either," says Maris, who hasn't seen McGwire in person since Big Mac hit number 62 in 1998. At the hearings McGwire looked 50 pounds lighter and 15 years older. "Really, sometimes I didn't even think it was him."
And Sosa, who seemed to lose his ability to speak English in front of Congress after 20 years in America? "Well, he denied it.... But if all these guys didn't do it, why is nobody suing [Jose] Canseco?" Maris wonders. "I've seen what steroids can do to a guy's size. But until there's more proof, I don't want to say Dad's record was broken illegally. But I have my suspicions."
You and a few hundred million others.
The mind boggles at the thought of how many home runs his dad would've hit on steroids, HGH, creatine or andro. "He was naturally big anyway," says Maris. "He got all his muscles doing rail-roids. [Roger Sr. laid railroad track for his father, a foreman.] So, I don't know, a lot more than 61, I guarantee you. A lot more."
Funny how life turns out. Twenty years after his death Roger Maris is finally catching a break. People are clamoring for asterisks on other sluggers' records. Writers are wondering how a two-time MVP who held the coolest record in baseball for 37 years isn't in the Hall of Fame. You think he's getting his hair back too?
"It comes down to this," says his eldest son. "When it's all said and done, baseball will have a decision to make on what to do with the record." Even though see-no-evil commissioner Bud Selig has no intention of going down that dark hall? "Yeah, well, we never had Congress involved in [baseball's steroid problem] before either," Maris says. "Things change."
Yeah, well, some of us don't have to wait for a commissioner or panel or act of Congress to find the truth. As far as I'm concerned, the home run mark belongs to a shy, big-boned guy from Fargo, N.Dak., who belted 61 on nothing more than Lucky Strikes and Pepto-Bismol.
And if McGwire or Sosa or Bonds makes it into Cooperstown before Roger Maris, the lights ought to be turned off and the doors never opened again.
Now that would be a dark hall. ?
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