Hall of Fame right-hander Ferguson Jenkins, joining the critical chorus following Mark McGwire's admission of steroids use, said the former single-season home run king owes an apology to all the pitchers his homers hurt. "How many pitchers do you think he ended their careers by hitting numbers of home runs off them?" Jenkins asked in an interview published by The Associated Press.
Jenkins said McGwire's confession was prompted by his hiring by "his buddy" Tony La Russa as the Cardinals' hitting coach, a job for which he doesn't consider him qualified."La Russa is his buddy," Jenkins said of McGwire. "That's the only reason he got to be hitting coach. I'm not sure a home run hitter can teach a good hitter, a contact hitter, how to play, how to hit. He swung for the fences most of the time. How you going to teach a guy that's a .240 hitter to put it in play? "He wasn't going to stay in hiding the rest of his life," Jenkins added. "Why did it take five years? Why didn't he come clean as soon as he quit? They'll be a lot of pressure put on him by a lot more reporters come Spring Training. He really hasn't touched on what he ought to be saying to the public or to fellow ballplayers. If you're going to hold a press conference, hold a press conference." Jenkins, now 67 and a winner of 284 games in a 19-year career through 1983, obviously never faced McGwire, who broke into the big leagues in 1986. But had they met, he said, he would've known how to keep McGwire in the park. "It's tough to hit a home run off your back," Jenkins said. "In my era, [Tom] Seaver, [Bob] Gibson, [Don] Drysdale, [Steve] Carlton, there were so many guys that would have probably knocked him on his butt. He wouldn't have hit home runs the way he did in that era." The interview with Jenkins was prompted by an open letter to McGwire the former pitcher had sent AP in which he wrote, "You have not even begun to apologize to those you have harmed." Jenkins wrote that McGwire owes apologies to pitchers, and to his own family: "You have yet to apologize to all the pitchers you faced while juiced. You altered pitchers' lives. You may have shortened pitchers careers because of the advantage you forced over them while juiced. Have you thought about what happened when they couldn't get you out and lost the confidence of their managers and general managers? You even managed to alter the place some athletes have achieved in record books by making your steroid-fueled run to the season home run record. "You need to apologize to your family for depriving them of your presence as time goes on because you are likely going to die earlier than if you had never relied on andro [androstenedione] to carry you to all your successes."