Friday, September 23, 2011

Remembering Roger Maris

"As a ballplayer, I would be delighted to do it (break Babe Ruth's single season home run record) again. As an individual, I doubt if I could possibly go through it again." - Roger Maris

Today the Yankees will hold a special ceremony to honor the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris' record of 61 homers in 1961.  The on field ceremony will be emceed by Billy Crystal and will include members of the Maris family - including his wife Pat, the Mantle family, former teammates, Sal Durante (caught Maris's 61st HR) and Frank Prudenti (Yankees bat boy in '61).  In addition, Maris' bat and the 61st HR ball - on loan from the Hall of Fame - will be on the field during the ceremony (via Yankees P.R.).

On this day the Yankees beat Boston 8-3 and Roger did not homer, but was 1 for 3. The Yankees hit three home runs, including No. 54 for Mickey Mantle (three-run HR). Elston Howard and PH Bob Cerv each homered as well and Whitey Ford picked up win No. 25 and Luis Arroyo earned his 28th save.  Through 157 games, Maris had 59 homers and Mantle 54.

Interesting Roger Maris stats:

In 1961, Maris actually hit 62 homers, but lost one when the game in which he hit it was rained out.

Only two of Maris' homers came off pitchers new to the American League in that expansion year.

His 13 homers against the White Sox in 1961 has been topped only by Lou Gehrig's 14 against Cleveland in 1936.

Maris struck out only 67 times in 1961 for an incredible strikeout to homer ratio of slightly more than one-to one.

Roger Maris was walked ninety-four times during the 1961 season and led the American League in runs (one-hundred thirty-two), runs batted in (one-hundred forty-two), and home runs (sixty-one) — which he hit once in every 9.7 at-bats.

In the 1962 Official Record Book, Maris didn't receive an asterisk for his achievement but he was forced to settle for second billing as Commissioner Ford Frick got his way. "For Most Home Runs in One Season," the first line read: "154 games, Babe Ruth, 60, 1927." A second line said: "162 games, Roger Maris, 61, 1961."

It would not be until 1991 that baseball officially made Maris the single-season home-run champion.

With Mickey Mantle hitting fourth behind him, Maris was not walked intentionally once that season.
But on May 22, 1962, Maris was walked intentionally four times in a 12-inning game. Only Andre Dawson has had as many as five free passes in a game and that was in a 16-inning contest.

In June 1965, Maris broke a bone in his right hand. No one told him of the fracture until after the season. Although he underwent surgery after the season, he was never again a serious power threat.

Maris wanted to retire after the 1966 season, but, when he told Ralph Houk of his decision before the end of the season, the manager convinced him to wait to make the announcement. The Yankee front office assured him it had no plans to trade him and would let him retire, but in December he was dealt to St. Louis

Maris played in seven World Series in the 1960s, the most of any player in the decade.

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Geo Ginrosge