Here’s the long transcript of my chat with hitting coach Mark McGwire at the Dodgers’ FanFest on Saturday. I was interested in his reaction to two events in a 10-day span earlier this month – the Hall of Fame election on Jan. 9 and the death of Stan Musial on Jan. 19.
Your memories of Stan Musial?
Back when I was playing there – ’97, ’98 until 2001 – he’d always come by the ballpark. I had a couple opportunities to go to dinner with him and Tony La Russa. Just a great man, great person. Treated everybody the same. Just, I mean, the stats and what he did in the game of baseball. I got to know his roommate Red (Schoendienst) very well. Red’s locker was right next to mine over there the last three years. Red would fill everybody in on how (Stan) was doing the last few years. It’s very sad that he’s passing but he’s in a better place today. You get to be around some of the best players in the game. I was lucky enough to – Stan was one of the ones I’ve always cherished.
Take me back to those dinner conversations with Musial and La Russa – was a lot of baseball knowledge being shared?
No, it’s like being out with your friends. We’d talk about normal things. You don’t necessarily talk about baseball; you talk about life. The things you learn, there are some stories but I don’t necessarily share what they’re about.
Is there one memory you can share that’s stuck with you?
Did Musial teach you something specific about hitting that you carried into your philosophy as a hitting coach?
I think it’s all – if you put everything together it’s all the same. He just had such a keen eye. His vision, what he wanted to do at the plate, was incredible.
With the last Hall of Fame vote, were you surprised nobody got in?
(Laughs.) I think everybody’s, they’ve made a point, they’ve made a stance. Like I’ve said, I’ll never fight it. It is what it is. It’s the way it’s going to be.
What about Craig Biggio?
Great player. I don’t know. They’ve inducted worse.
Do you think he’ll get in eventually?
Do you think anybody else from the class of 2013 will get in eventually?
That’s a good question. I mean, listen, numbers are numbers. It’s based on numbers. But they’ve made a stance. It’s unfortunate. What are you going to do?
The other name that often comes up is Mike Piazza; most people would be surprised if he never got in. Best hitting catcher of all time?
Well numbers-wise, yeah. Pretty damn good. He was fun to watch from afar.
His opposite field power was –
Stupid. Really good.