It's a game of numbers, and Mark McGwire now owns what's probably baseball's biggest number. His 62nd home run Tuesday night eclipsed the figure set by Roger Maris 37 years ago. Babe Ruth's 60 homers had stood for 34 years before that.
McGwire is now firmly fixed in that pantheon, though the race to top records is hardly over. The St. Louis first baseman will be setting a new one every time he clears the fences in this season's remaining games. And he's got a long way to go before he challenges Hank Aaron's record of 755 career home runs.
Numbers aside, this year's quest for homers has a warmly human side. The good-natured competition between McGwire and the Cubs' Sammy Sosa is a lesson in sportsmanship. McGwire's embrace (literally) of Roger Maris's family shows a bigness of heart that matches the majestic trajectory of his typical homer.
Tuesday's shot wasn't typical - a liner that barely made it over the left field fence. Then McGwire almost forgot to touch first base. All the better. Heroes have to be human.