NEW YORK -- Max Scherzer starts to speak about Mark Mc Gwire, closes his eyes trying to find comfort, but the words won't come out.
Mc Gwire talks about Scherzer, but his voice cracks and tears well up in his eyes.
Scherzer, the Detroit Tigers right-hander who will start Tuesday's All-Star Game for the American League, has never met Mc Gwire.
Yet they have a unique relationship, bonding over an unforgettable summer, a handwritten note and a bat.SCHERZER: 5 awesome things about AL starter MATT HARVEY: NL starter's rise to stardom"I get emotional talking about it," Mc Gwire tells USA TODAY Sports."I never met Max, but I have these unbelievable feelings for him."When I finally get the opportunity to meet him and see him, I'm going to give him the biggest hug of his life."The connection began during the summer of 1998, when Mc Gwire marched toward Roger Maris' single-season home run record, captivating the country, including Max and Alex Scherzer of Chesterfield, Mo.When Mc Gwire hit his 62nd home run to pass Maris on Sept.8, 1998, Scherzer, then 14, remembers missing the historic blast and never being so angry at his 11-year-old brother.
On the morning of June 21, 2012, the day he received that telephone call from his father, Scherzer never felt so much love for Alex.PRINCE FIELDER: Keys to Tigers winning AL Central It was the day his brother was found dead, having committed suicide by strangulation, inside the basement of their parents' home.Max Scherzer declines to speak publicly about the death. Too painful."I don't know if words can describe what we feel.It's so hard," says Erica May, Scherzer's fiancée after eight years of dating."We'll talk about it, but when we do, we both struggle. Everyone is."Mc Gwire, the Cardinals hitting coach at the time of Alex's death, wasn't aware of the tragedy.He didn't know that Max Scherzer pitched two days later against the Pittsburgh Pirates, believing his brother would want that, and sobbing alone afterward in the shower."To this day, I don't know how he did that," Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones says. I don't know anyone else who could have done it either."Scherzer's parents, Brad and Jan, grew concerned over their son as he kept the sorrow to himself.That is until he sent a letter to Mc Gwire weeks later in which he opened up about his love for Alex."Oh, my God, it was unbelievable," Mc Gwire says.