Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Roger and 61

It was on this day, October 1, in 1961, that Roger Maris did what some had tried to do but could not: break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record.

Maris, in more games than Ruth, passed the Babe with home run number 61, on a 2-0 fastball from Red Sox righty Tracy Stallard.  Of course, that earned him an "asterisk" that never really was next his record as was believed.  Eventually, it was cleared up by baseball that the record really was his, no matter how many games it took.  In light of steroids accusations, many believe the record still belongs to Maris.

It took years for Raj to ever get his fair share.  Just a quiet guy from North Dakota, he never wanted the spotlight, and couldn't win the fans over who wanted Mickey Mantle to break the record.  Roger needed Mickey, as a teammate to challenge him, and to help him in the lineup.

Mickey needed Roger, as a roommate to help calm down a little of #7's partying ways.

They were an unlikely, but perfect pair.

Few ever had a bad word to say about Roger.  He was a wonderful ballplayer, who got overlooked for hitting the 61 home runs.  He was more than that.  He was a two-time MVP, a brilliant base runner, and a special outfielder with a good arm.

Oh, Roger was much more than 61 in 61.  But it's nice that he has that legacy.  It's what keep people remembering him, for sure.  A curse, as much as a blessing.

He died, far too young, at 51 in 1985 of cancer.  Bob Costas, at the close of the NFL postgame on NBC that day, remembered him.

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