Tag Archives: Roger Maris

Roger Maris Hits His 59th Home Run September 20, 1961

55 Years Ago Today Roger Maris Hit His 59th Home Run Putting Him One Behind Babe Ruth

roger-maris-hits-home-run-number-59-september-20-1961In 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)

It wasn’t until September 26 Continue reading

Roger Maris Hits His 61st Home Run

October 1, 1961, A Home Run Record Is Set & Baseball Blows Its Big Moment

Roger Maris emerges from the dugout to tip his cap after hitting his 61st home run of the season. October 1, 1961

Roger Maris emerges from the dugout to tip his cap after hitting his 61st home run of the season. October 1, 1961

52 years ago today, on the last day of the regular season October 1, 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season off of the Red Sox hurler Tracy Stallard in the fourth inning. For those who were fortunate enough to be there, it was a great moment in baseball history.

Unlike many of today’s players who will take a curtain call without any prodding for driving in the go-ahead run, Maris had to literally be pushed out of the dugout to acknowledge the 23,154 cheering fans at Yankee Stadium.

So why were there only 23,154 fans to see Babe Ruth’s record eclipsed?

That has to do with former sportswriter and then baseball Commissioner, Ford Frick who was a great friend of Babe Ruth and his ghost-writer.

Frick had declared that an asterisk be placed next to any home run record set, if it was not accomplished in 154 games, which was the number of games Ruth played in 1927 when he set his home run mark at 60.

Legendary baseball owner Bill Veeck tells this scathing and hilarious story in his wonderful memoir, Veeck as in Wreck written with Ed Linn (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 1962.

Let us be fair. Ford Frick does not try to do the wrong thing. Given the choice between doing something right or something wrong, Frick will usually begin by doing as little as possible. It is only when he is pushed to the wall for a decision that he will always, with sure instinct, and unerring aim, make an unholy mess of things.

Suppose that, purely as an exercise, I had put the following baseball question to you at any time during the past twenty-five years.

Suppose, starts the question, that someone comes along to challenge Babe Ruth’s record- which is THE record the same way Mt. Everest is THE mountain. Continue reading