For St. Louis radio announcer Mike Shannon and Busch Stadium grounds-crew worker Tim Forneris, Wednesday night was an exciting moment in their lives and in baseball history. In the fourth inning, at 9:18 p.m., the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run, breaking a baseball record.
"It was amazing, because it was the shortest home run he's hit all year," Shannon, a veteran radio announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals, told CBS 'This Morning' Co-Anchor Mark McEwen. "He hit it so hard and I think after that, he just kind of went numb. He doesn't remember some of the things he did going around the bases."
In his shock, McGwire almost missed first base, and had to go back and touch the plate.
Forneris was there to pick up ball number 62. He said that, unlike most of McGwire's home runs, it wasn't an upper deck shot. Instead, it sneaked over the wall, where Forneris says, "it was waiting for me to pick it up."
Although Forneris could have received a fortune for the ball, he decided to give it back to McGwire.
"To me, I mean, I have a million memories. That's what it is going to come down to," he says.
And far as passing up a possible $1 million the baseball collector's item may have fetched, Forneris says, "Yeah, but I would spend it foolishly anyways."
Adding to the drama of the evening, Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa, who has been neck-in-neck with McGwire to break Roger Maris' record of 62 home runs, was in the field Tuesday when the ball was hit.
"Mark is the man," Sosa said earlier Tuesday. Later, he was among the well-wishers who embraced McGwire after he broke the record.
"What they have done, I think, they have brought the Golden Rule back to the United States of America. They are pulling for one another," Shannon says.
McGwire also showed great compassion for the Maris family, and paid tribute to the late baseball player by going into the stands to embrace them.
"He told me this, he said, 'I feel that Roger is with me.' He knew he was going to hit the home run," said Shannon.
For Forneris, who had known McGwire only as a casual acquaintance, the thrill of the evening will remain with him forever.
"I guess I've got the ultimate meeting with McGwire, to be able to be a part of the ceremony. I mean, that to me, that's awesome," he said.
Forneris plans to enjoy the attention he's getting as the person who picked up number 62, touring Disney World during the day Wednesday and appearing on CBS' The David Letterman Show in the evening.
For Shannon, he says, "It's been he best thing that's ever happened to baseball. It has epitomized the game because of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Classy guys."