Johnny Mize (1936-1953)

The Big Cat

“We always did know how to pitch to him, but some days when you’re squatting behind the plate, Mr. Mize’s bat swells up.”- Roy Campanella

Georgia native Johnny Mize was nicknamed Big Cat because he was such a smooth fielder but his career was defined by the bat he wielded.  Four times he led the league in slugging percentage and home runs.  He had such a great eye and excellent bat control that he is the only player to ever hit 50 home runs and strike out fewer than 50 times in a season.  Like Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio, he missed his chance at 500 career homers because he served three years in the service during World War II.  One of Mize’s records is quite unusual – he holds the record for most games (6) in which he hit three home runs.


Mark McGwire (1986-2001)

Big Mac

“His arms are bigger than my legs.”-Harmon Killebrew

A twelve time All-Star and an impressive slugger, Mark McGwire hit nearly 600 home runs in a 15 year career.  His 1998 home run chase for the record books (hitting a then record 70), along with Sammy Sosa, was the talk of baseball, if not all of sports.  He hit a home run every 10.61 at bats, the best mark ever in history, beating Babe Ruth by a full at bat.  He was named to the All Century team in 1999 and was a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.  Yet his great achievements forever will be clouded by the suspicions of steroid use.  His contemporaries Sammy Sosa, Raphael Palmero and even Barry Bonds will always be looked at through the same steroid lens.  A career total of 583 home runs makes one a lock for the Hall’s induction.  Yet in his first year of eligibility, he received only 23% of the vote from the baseball writers – a clear indication that the steroids controversy will cloud this era’s statistics.

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