McGwire Re-Signs with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (SCN/AP) Tue, Sep 16, 1997 - Mark McGwire, who last week joined Babe Ruth as the only players with consecutive 50-homer seasons, signed a three-year, $28 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

The Cardinals acquired McGwire, 33, from Oakland on July 31 just before the trading deadline. Last week, he said he thought he was a perfect match with the Cardinals, and there was a good chance he'd be back. McGwire has an option for a fourth year.

"We fully expect him to complete his wonderful career in St. Louis," said Bill DeWitt, head of the Cardinals' ownership group. "Mark is reminiscent of the great Cardinals of the past."

McGwire said he accepted less money to stay with the Cardinals in part because of the response and adulation he's received in St. Louis. Thousands of fans show up two hours early for games to enjoy McGwire's tape-measure shots in batting practice.

"The best thing I've been saying from the time I came to St. Louis is overwhelming," McGwire said. "I don't think it was too hard to fall in love with the city of St. Louis." Before joining the Cardinals, McGwire was said to prefer the West Coast because his nine-year-old son lives in southern California with his mother. Matthew McGwire gave the Cardinals a thumbs-up after a recent visit and had two words for his dad when the deal was announced: "All right!"

About a quarter of the money is deferred until McGwire retires, which will help the Cardinals keep their roster intact for next season.

Part of McGwire's deal includes establishment of a charitable foundation to benefit sexually and physically abused children. He's donating $1 million a year. McGwire had trouble keeping his composure describing the foundation, pausing for several seconds at one point.

"Let's just say children have a special place in my heart," he finally said. "It's a time in my life that I want to help them out."

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