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McGwire HR Heard at Other Ballparks

September 9, 1998

When Mark McGwire hit his 62nd homer, the crowd noise reverberated throughout baseball.

In Philadelphia, Phillies manager Terry Francona could tell from the crowd noise at Veterans Stadium.

``I heard the fans making noise and I thought it must have happened,″ he said. ``I thought it was kind of neat that so many people had radios and that they cared about McGwire. It’s just great for the game.″

At Fenway Park in Boston, both the Yankees and the Red Sox marveled.

``Just an amazing feat, right up there with Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak,″ Yankees pitcher David Cone.

Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said he wouldn’t have minded exchanging places with the Cubs’ Steve Trachsel.

``If I had to give up 62 that would have been OK,″ Martinez said. ``I would battle, but that would be OK.″

Around the major leagues, players watched the historic homer on clubhouse televisions. Montreal’s F.P. Santangelo said he keeps a bat autographed by McGwire in his locker at Olympic Stadium.

``Pretty cool, wasn’t it?″ Atlanta’s Greg Maddux said. ``You just want to congratulate him and pray he hits none off you next year.″

At Comiskey Park in Chicago, players could tell McGwire broke the record from the noise of fans cheering in the Bullpen Sports Bar behind right field.

``It gives you goose bumps,″ said Frank Thomas, a two-time AL MVP. ``He’s always been the best home-run hitter I’ve ever seen. It couldn’t happen to a better person. To hit 62 home runs in one season is unheard of. He might be the best of all time.″

Players were excited at the attention McGwire has drawn to baseball, still recovering from the 1994-95 strike.

``He’s made a fan of the world,″ Houston’s Craig Biggio said. ``You can’t have an asterisk by his name. He got the record the quickest (in number of games) of anyone so they can take that asterisk and do whatever they want with it.″

At the U.S. Open, the large scoreboards atop Arthur Ashe Stadium flashed word of the home run to the crowd there for the night tennis matches.

In Seal Beach, Calif., the ball was just over the fence and they were spraying champagne at The Abbey, the small eatery put on the map when Mark McGwire made a ``The Abbey Seal Beach″ cap his lucky hat.

About 200 people were in the restaurant, where the posted capacity is 48. Some lit cigars with bands reading, ``No. 62 The Abbey 1998 I was here.″

``I gave up on baseball a few years back when the strike was on,″ said Barney Caton, once a disillusioned fan. ``McGwire brought it back. He’s made the game fun again.″

There was little cheering in Fargo, N.D., Maris’ hometown, his burial place and where his museum is located.

``Well, that takes care of that,″ Orv Kelly said.

Houston’s Jeff Bagwell said what made the record extra special was that the home-run watch began for McGwire even before opening day.

``From day one, before day one, Mark McGwire was supposed to get this record,″ Bagwell said. ``That was tremendous pressure and he his 15 in 21 days and overcame the pressure. To know that everyone wanted him to hit home runs and then go out and do it, that’s awesome.″

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