Fans want anything associated with Mark McGwire. Yes, even his underwear and used chewing gum.
"I had one guy call, wanting some of the gum that he had chewed while at bat," said Charmaine Buzzetta, who works in the St. Louis Cardinals Team Store. "Of course, we don't have anything like that."But that wasn't the most unusual request that has come in as McGwire closes in on Roger Maris' home run record of 61. Someone else called the store at Busch Stadium recently and asked for a pair of the red-haired slugger's underwear.
"I had to laugh at that one," said Buzzetta, who chuckled again as she recalled the conversation.
The store was able to get a couple of $250 game bats from McGwire this season, and it can order the $200 authentic jerseys. But it sells mostly T-shirts, hats, balls, plaques - run-of-the-mill souvenir items in the $5 to $25 range.
"People want anything with McGwire on it," Buzzetta said. "I've never seen anything like it."
Busch Stadium always has been a sea of red, with the names of fan-favorites such as former shortstop Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee and Brian Jordan easily spotted in the crowd. These days, though, most of those red jerseys have No. 25 and "McGwire" on the back.
"My 12-year-old daughter knows more about baseball now than most adults," said Pat Marra of St. Louis. "She is so up on Mark McGwire that I can't even believe it. In fact, she wants me to buy the Cardinals wallpaper for her room."
Pro Player, a sports apparel company based in Hudson, N.H., said it has sold more than $100,000 worth of McGwire T-shirts and hats. The company estimates it will sell $2 million in merchandise if he breaks Maris' hallowed record.
If that happens, McGwire would unseat Ken Griffey as No. 1 in player likeness sales for the company in the past three years, said spokesman Peter Seligman.
"Mark McGwire is like the Green Bay Packers. He has nationwide appeal," he said.