Mark McGwire said he already had looked at the bobblehead figurine being handed out at O.co Coliseum before Tuesday night’s game between the A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers – and the A’s nailed the likeness.
“It’s my rookie stance, clean-shaven and no long hair,” McGwire said. “So, yeah.”
With McGwire back in town as the Dodgers’ hitting coach, the A’s recognized his 1987 American League Rookie of the Year season by giving away 15,000 of the appropriately pigeon-toed figurines to fans. McGwire was introduced over the public address system shortly before the first pitch and received a loud ovation.
Rarely does a team design bobbleheads for an opposing player or coach. But McGwire said the A’s contacted him last winter with the idea, knowing the Dodgers would visit the Coliseum this season for a two-game interleague series, and, “It took me about a minute, two minutes to say yes. How cool is that?”
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On Tuesday, McGwire recalled being a long shot to make the A’s roster out of spring training in 1987. And when he made the Opening Day roster, his first start came against the Minnesota Twins at first base – after he’d played mostly third base in the minors.
“I’d given all my first-base gloves away, and I was using Bob Watson’s first baseman’s glove,” McGwire said. “I had to break in a new Rawlings first baseman’s glove later on that year. It was somewhere like April 19, 20, I started playing on an everyday basis.”
McGwire had one of the most prolific offensive seasons by a rookie. He hit 49 home runs to break the rookie record by 11, drove in 118 runs and ran away with top rookie honors.
It took me about a minute, two minutes to say yes. How cool is that?
Mark McGwire, on approving the A’s idea for a bobblehead night in his honor
His 39th home run that season came Aug. 14 against the Angels’ Don Sutton. On Tuesday, McGwire said his father called him just a few days earlier to remind him of that anniversary.
“That was quite a few years ago,” McGwire said. “I can only imagine what it’d be like today, with the media today.”
Before Tuesday, McGwire said he hadn’t set foot on the Coliseum field since a spring training game in 2001, when he played for St. Louis. Standing near the visitors’ dugout in his blue Dodgers cap and jacket, he remarked that not much had changed since his playing days.
“The foul ground, the wind,” he said. “I see spots I used to wear out over the fence. Yeah, great memories.”
While 12 of McGwire’s 16 big-league seasons – and 363 of his 583home runs – came in an A’s uniform, he said people still seem to remember him more for his time in St. Louis, where he hit 70 homers in 1998 to set a then season record. McGwire later admitted he had used steroids throughout the 1990s, including when he broke the 37-year-old record.
This is McGwire’s third season as the Dodgers’ hitting coach, a role he said can be both rewarding and trying.
“It’s very time-consuming. It can be very frustrating,” he said. “There’s a lot of times I go home at night and don’t sleep well.
“I treat it like when I was a player – you try to pass on the knowledge and stuff that these pitchers are trying to do to you, and sometimes when you don’t execute, those are restless nights. Same thing when I was a player. But the great thing about baseball is you come back the next day. Doesn’t matter what the score was the night before. It’s a brand new ballgame.”
363 Home runs Mark McGwire hit with the A’s
* The A’s lineup against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw:
And the Dodgers’ lineup against A’s left-hander Felix Doubront:
LF Van Slyke
▪ Outfielder Coco Crisp is not starting for the second consecutive game. A’s manager Bob Melvin said Crisp is “banged up” but could be used off the bench Tuesday, and Melvin hopes Crisp will play Wednesday.
▪ Third baseman Brett Lawrie also was out of the lineup after not playing Monday in Baltimore. Melvin said Lawrie is dealing with a back issue, which he described as: “It gets out of alignment a little bit, and has been some here recently.”
▪ The A’s landed in the Bay Area about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday after their night game in Baltimore. It was an unceremonious end to a bad trip, on which the A’s went 0-7 and were blown out Sunday in Baltimore. Melvin said the A’s simply have to put the trip’s results behind them.
“Hopefully the change of scenery, getting home (will help),” he said. “But you really put it behind you when you win a game. So hopefully that’s what we’re looking to do.
“Everybody knows what we’re going through right now, and we’re all trying to get out of it.”