The Players Association has been reticent about allowing current players to participate. And earlier in the season, a lawyer for Barry Bonds said the Giants slugger would cooperate only if the committee could guarantee that none of his testimony would be turned over to the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, who has been investigating Bonds for perjury in association with the case against the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) for money laundering and the sale of steroids without prescriptions.
The latest news about McGwire, who in 1998 with the St. Louis Cardinals became the first MLB player to hit 70 homers in a single season, comes only four months before his name will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. The record lasted only three seasons and was eclipsed by Bonds, who hit 73 in 2001. The 2006 first-year Hall class also includes Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., sure selections. McGwire, despite hitting 583 homers in 18 seasons for Oakland and St. Louis, is considered on the bubble.
A year ago, McGwire appeared along with a number of former and active players before a Congressional subcommittee investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
McGwire declined to talk about the issue that day on Capitol Hill, although the moment his testimony began was perhaps the most stirring of the 11-hour session.
His voice cracking, McGwire told the committee: "My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family or myself. I intend to follow their advice."
To all question about steroids after that, McGwire demurred, saying instead that he was not "here to speak about the past."
About the future, McGwire said: "I will use whatever influence and popularity that I have to discourage young athletes from taking any drug that is not recommended by a doctor."
Aside from appearing at the closing ceremonies last year for the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis, McGwire has remained mostly away from baseball.
He made a financial donation to the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which was established in the wake of the suicide death of the 17-year-old Texan baseball player, the Daily News
reported. Hooton's father, Don, also testified at those same Congressional hearings, and described how his son had taken his life after using steroids to try and compete at the scholastic baseball level.
Hooton declined to disclose how much McGwire contributed, but another source told the Daily News
that it was $15,000.
"I encouraged [McGwire] to go public, but [he didn't] want any credit or attention," Hooton said. "[He] just wants to help the cause. I think [he was] coming from the right place and doing it for the right reasons."