McGwire’s return to baseball criticized at anti-steroids conference

Conference, headlined by Ray Lewis and Domonique Foxworth, aimed at youths

April 30, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

The father of a California teenager who committed suicide in 2004 after using steroids said Thursday that Major League Baseball should not have endorsed Mark McGwire's return to the game so soon after his steroids confession in January and that he is awaiting an apology from him.

Frank Marrero said during an anti-steroids conference at the Crowne Plaza in Timonium that baseball was "too forgiving" of McGwire, who was hired before the season as the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting instructor and then admitted that he used steroids in his career, including during his 70-homer season of 1998.

"I think baseball has not held him accountable," Marrero said in an interview during the conference, which was sponsored by St. Joseph's Medical Center's Powered by Me program. "He needs to be able to say that he was sorry for what he did, admit it — that it was a mistake — and go out there and talk to the kids. I know that my son [Efrain, who was 19] told me that Mark McGwire is one of the reasons he took steroids."

Marrero, who lives in Northern California, said his son had heard reports about McGwire taking androstenedione — a supplement later banned by baseball — "and he wanted to do the same thing."

The Associated Press reported that McGwire used the substance in 1998.

McGwire could not be reached Thursday through Brian Bartow, a team spokesman.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, also appeared at the conference and said his staff had invited McGwire to speak at the event. The conference was attended by about 700 high school athletes from 64 area high schools.

"I think that he should give more," Cummings said of McGwire." I think he should be doing these types of things — traveling around the country, talking to kids, showing true remorse."

Cummings said he hoped McGwire would speak at a future conference if his schedule permits. Brian Roberts of the Orioles and Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees have talked at past conferences about steroid use.

Cummings and Marrero both attended the congressional hearing in 2005 at which McGwire repeatedly declined to address accusations of steroid use. About six months earlier, Efrain Marrero had shot himself after quitting steroids and suffering what his father said were serious psychological aftereffects.

"I'm still waiting for a phone call from" McGwire, Marrero said. "I was there, too, so he could give me a call and apologize."

Nearly five years later, McGwire acknowledged having used performance-enhancing drugs.

"I used steroids during my career, and I apologize," he said.

Commissioner Bud Selig said the admission would ease McGwire's return to baseball.

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