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McGwire Meets With Pope

January 27, 1999

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Mark McGwire got his summit meeting with the pope, after all.

McGwire, who was raised Catholic, met briefly with Pope John Paul II Tuesday night before a youth rally at the Kiel Center. The two shook hands just before the rally began.

``When he learned the pope would be here he was hoping it was going to work,″ St. Louis Cardinals spokesman Brian Bartow said. ``It was on-again, off-again, then it came together rather quickly.″

During his address, the pope referred to McGwire, who set a major-league record with 70 home runs last season.

``I’m told there was much excitement in St. Louis during the recent baseball season,″ the pope said. ``Well, two great players, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, were competing to break the home run record.

``You can feel the same enthusiasm as you train for different goals, the goal of following Christ, the goal of bringing his message to the world.″

The home run king was in town for a St. Louis Cardinals’ charity function and a dinner honoring him as the city’s Baseball Man of the Year Sunday and Monday. He had planned on departing for his home in Southern California before the pope arrived Tuesday afternoon,

Instead, McGwire left on the private jet of one of the Cardinals’ owners soon after the meeting.

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