55 Years Ago Today Roger Maris Hit His 59th Home Run Putting Him One Behind Babe Ruth
In the pre-steroid era of baseball, Roger Maris had one magical season. Shown above, Maris connects for his 59th home run of the season on September 20, 1961.
Maris would hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60.
Yet Maris’s accomplishment wasn’t considered an “official” record. That is because Ford Frick, the former sportswriter and then Commissioner of baseball, ruled that Maris had to beat Babe Ruth in the same number of games that the Babe was eligible to play in 1927, which was 154.
If Maris did not hit 60 by his 154th game the record would be denoted with an asterisk, indicating that Maris had more opportunities (163) than Ruth did.
The news caption for this photo reads:
Baltimore, Sept 20 – Homer No. 59 For Maris – Roger Maris of the New York Yankees swings into the ball in the third inning tonight as he connects for his 59th home run of the season. The blow came against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Milt Pappas. If Maris can add one more during the game he will equal Babe Ruth’s official 1927 record of 60 in 154 games. He has hit two homers in one game seven times this season. The ball is just a streak as it flies off the bat, right. (AP wirephoto)
Hansen didn’t need to practice his sliding – he stole only nine bases in a 15 year career, but led the Orioles in home runs in 1960 with 22 and won the Rookie of the Year Award. When he was playing for the Washington Senators, Hansen turned an unassisted triple play on July 29, 1968 against the Cleveland Indians. It was the first unassisted triple play in the major leagues in 41 years.
I love those vintage flannel uniforms the Orioles are wearing. Marv Breeding Continue reading →
Mark “Dutch” Weems, Ralph “Mickey” Scott and Wayne Garland
They were supposed to be the Baltimore Orioles pitchers of the future. Of the three Orioles pitchers seen here at spring training in March 1972, only one would have success in the major leagues.
Mark “Dutch” Weems (left) never made it to the majors and was out of organized ball in 1973 at the age of 22 after posting a 24-19 record in five minor league seasons. Ralph “Mickey” Scott (center – throwing) bounced round the majors from 1972 -1977 appearing in 133 games and compiling a 8-7 record. He passed away at the age of 64 in 2011.
The star of this group was Wayne Garland (right), the Orioles the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1969 (June secondary) amateur baseball draft.
The Orioles took a chance by drafting Garland who had declined previous chances to play. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose Garland in the fifth round of the 1968 amateur draft but he did not sign with them. The St. Louis Cardinals then made him the first overall pick in the (January secondary) 1969 draft, but once again Garland did not sign.
Wayne Garland had six nondescript seasons in the minors and majors until 1976 when he went 20-7 with a 2.67 ERA for the Orioles. He was paid $23,000 that season and became a free agent in the off season.
It was the beginning of the free agency era in baseball and Garland became one of the highest paid players in the majors when he signed with the Cleveland Indians for $2.3 million for 10 years.
At the time I thought it was bizarre to give any player a ten year contract. As Ira Berkow of New York Times pointed out, “Many baseball people wondered how the Indians could pay so much for a player with only one good major league season. They are still wondering.” Continue reading →
Gil Coan turned 91 on May 18, 2013. The North Carolina native started his major league career in Washington in 1946 at the age of 24.
The speedy left fielder had a few good seasons on some unspectacular Washington Senators teams. Though he hit only .254 for his career, Coan finished in the top ten in stolen bases in the American League six times and hit .303 in consecutive seasons, 1950 and 1951.
No one could possibly foresee that the trade Gil Coan was involved in would turn out to be one of the most one-sided in baseball history. On February 18, 1954 Roy Sievers of the St. Louis Browns (who moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles starting in 1954) was traded straight up for Coan.
Many fans and pundits thought that Washington was receiving the short end of the stick.
After starting his career on a grand scale by winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1949, Sievers had in 1951 separated his shoulder and in 1952 dislocated his arm. Sievers playing time and production had tapered off considerably in the five seasons he had spent with the Browns. By 1953 he was a part-time player. Then the trade happened.
Sievers regained the strength in his arm doing construction work in Washington, and the Senators were the beneficiaries. Sievers put up these numbers:
Coan’s fortunes after the trade were not so bright. Coan hit only 3 home runs and drove in 31 runs over the next three years. He bounced around from the Orioles, to the White Sox and then on to the New York Giants and was out of the big leagues after the 1956 season at age 34.
After his baseball career ended Coan started an insurance company in Brevard, North Carolina which after his retirement in 1986 is still run by his son and grandson. Coan’s alma mater, Brevard College named its baseball park Gil Coan Field.
Cardinals Superstar Stan Musial Dies At 92, Orioles Manager Earl Weaver Dies At 82 And One Very Dirty, Funny Radio Show
If you are like me, Saturday, January 19, 2013 will be remembered by baseball fans as a very sad day because two Hall of Famers died.
Stan Musial was one of the greatest players to ever play the game and was a gentleman on and off the field.
Earl Weaver was supposedly a gentleman off the field. On the field he could be a terror to the umpires.
I’ll leave the comments of greatness to others on both of these legends. While both of these men will get accolades and fond remembrances in the obituary pages, few will mention the outtake reel from “The Manager’s Corner” with Earl Weaver and Tom Marr.
This pre-game show that usually aired 20 minutes before every Orioles game never made it on the air for obvious reasons. I first heard this about 15 years ago. It had me rolling on the floor with laughter. I’d like to remember Earl as having a funny enough sense of humor to purposely make a radio show un-airable. Here is the story of how this 1982 “interview” transpired.
WARNING – EXTREMELY STRONG LANGUAGE – Play in the presence of children if you swear like a sailor.
The Baltimore Orioles played like Supermen from 1969-1971 winning 109, 108 and 101 games respectively. They won the American League Eastern division crown five times from 1969-1974.
The 2012 Baltimore Orioles have battled the Yankees for the division lead far longer than many baseball experts have expected.
This Baltimore – New York rivalry had cooled off during the last 15 years, but has finally re-ignited under Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s gritty team. In the early to mid 1970’s the Yankees and the Orioles were contending with one another year after year. The Orioles were always coming out on top, until 1976 when the Yankees finally broke their twelve year pennant dry spell and went on to the World Series, only to be swept by the Cincinnati Reds.
In this September 10, 1970 news photograph, Yankees outfielder Curt Blefary confronted not one Orioles Superman, but four.
The text of this AP news photograph reads:
A few months ago, when the New York Yankees were getting close to the Baltimore Orioles, former Oriole Curt Blefary said Baltimore could be caught because “they don’t have bid red S’s under their shirts.” Prior to tonight’s game, the Orioles, now leading by 10 games, showed Blefary (center) that they are indeed some kind of Supermen. Exposing their shirts are Frank Robinson, Paul Blair, Brooks Robinson and Dave Johnson.
The Yankees ended up 93-69 finishing second in the American League Eastern Division to the Orioles who went 108-54. They then swept the Twins 3-0 for the AL Championship and won the 1970 World Series 4-1 over the Cincinnati Reds.
We’ll see if the 2012 Orioles have any Supermen this year as the season winds down.