Roger Maris (1934 - 1985)

A photo of Roger Maris
Roger Maris
1934 - 1985
September 10, 1934
Hibbing, Minnesota United States
December 14, 1985
Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota United States
Other Names
Roger Maris, Roger Eugene Maris
Roger Maris was born on September 10, 1934 in Hibbing, Minnesota. He died on December 14, 1985 in Fargo, North Dakota at 51 years of age.
Updated: May 20, 2020
New York Yankees (1960–1966) In 1960, Maris hit a single, double, and two home runs in his first game as a Yankee. He was named to the AL All-Star roster again and played in both games. He finished the season leading the AL in slugging percentage (.581), runs batted in (112), and extra base hits (64). He also hit 39 home runs and had a .283 batting average.[citation needed] He won the American League's Most Valuable Player award and was recognized as an outstanding defensive outfielder with a Gold Glove Award.[citation needed] The Yankees won the American League pennant, the first of five consecutive pennants, but lost a seven-game World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates culminating in Bill Mazeroski's dramatic walk-off home run. 1961 Main articles: 1961 Major League Baseball season and 1961 New York Yankees season In 1961, the AL expanded from eight to ten teams. In the expansion draft, the newly created Los Angeles Angels and Washington Senators were restricted to drafting players from AL rosters. The perceived result was that American League team rosters had become watered down, as players who would otherwise have been playing at AAA, if not lower, were now in the AL. The Yankees, however, were left mainly intact.[citation needed] In order to maintain a balanced schedule, AL owners extended the season from 154 games to 162 games in 1961. (The National League expanded its season to 162 games in 1962.) On January 23, 1961, an Associated Press reporter asked Maris whether the schedule changes might threaten Babe Ruth's single-season home run record; Maris replied, "Nobody will touch it... Look up the records and you'll see that it's a rare year when anybody hits 50 homers, let alone 60." Maris with Mickey Mantle in 1961 Yankee home runs began to come at a record pace. One famous photograph lined up six 1961 Yankees, including Mantle, Maris, Yogi Berra and Bill Skowron, under the nickname "Murderers Row", because they hit a combined 165 home runs the previous season (the title "Murderers Row", originally coined in 1918, had most famously been used to refer to the 1927 Yankees). As mid-season approached, it seemed quite possible that either Maris or Mantle, or perhaps both, would break Ruth's 34-year-old home run record. Sportswriters began to play the "M&M Boys" against each other, inventing a rivalry where none existed, as Berra would tell multiple interviewers. More and more, the Yankees became "Mickey Mantle's team" and Maris was ostracized as an "outsider" and "not a true Yankee." Mantle, however, was felled by a hip infection causing hospitalization late in the season, leaving Maris as the single remaining player with the opportunity to break Ruth's home run record. From left to right, the bats used to hit Babe Ruth's 60th home run in 1927, Roger Maris' 61st in 1961, and Mark McGwire's 70th and Sammy Sosa's 66th in 1998 In the middle of the season, baseball commissioner Ford Frick (a friend of Ruth) announced at a press conference that unless Ruth's record was broken in the first 154 games of the season, the new record should be shown separately in the "record books", with some "distinctive mark" next to it indicating it had been done in a 162-game season. The asterisk as such a mark was immediately suggested by New York Daily News sportswriter Dick Young. In spite of its formality, Frick's so-called ruling was merely a suggestion: Major League Baseball had no direct control over any record books until many years later. As he closed in on Ruth’s record, Maris received death threats and NYPD detective Kieran Burke was assigned to watch over him. Maris had 59 home runs after the Yankees' 154th game and therefore failed to beat Ruth's 60 home runs within the original season length. Maris hit his 61st home run on October 1, 1961, in the fourth inning of the last game of the season, at Yankee Stadium in front of 23,154 fans.[20] Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard gave up the record home run, which was caught by fan Sal Durante in the right field bleachers. Maris was awarded the 1961 Hickok Belt as the top professional athlete of the year and won the American League's MVP Award for the second straight year.[citation needed] It is said, however, that the stress of pursuing the record was so great for Maris that his hair occasionally fell out in clumps during the season. Within a few years the asterisk controversy died down and all prominent baseball record keepers listed Maris as the single-season record holder. 1962–1966 Maris signs a baseball for President John F. Kennedy in the 1962 season In 1962, Maris made his fourth consecutive All-Star team appearance and his seventh and final All-Star game appearance. He made a game-saving play in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 1962 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. With the Yankees leading 1-0 and Matty Alou on first, Willie Mays doubled toward the right-field line. Maris cut off the ball and made a strong throw to prevent Alou from scoring the tying run; the play set up Willie McCovey's series-ending line drive to second baseman Bobby Richardson, capping what would prove to be the final World Series victory for the "old" Yankees. In 1963, Maris played in only 90 games, hitting 23 home runs. Maris was injured in Game Two of the 1963 World Series. In 1964, he rebounded, appearing in 141 games, batting .281 with 26 home runs. Maris hit a home run in Game 6 of the 1964 World Series] In 1965, his physical problems returned, and he had off-season surgery to remove a bone chip in his hand. In 1966, the Yankees' and Maris' fortunes continued to decline as he played most of the season with a misdiagnosed broken bone in his hand. On December 8, 1966, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Charley Smith.
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Roger Maris
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Roger Maris
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Roger Maris, Roger Eugene Maris
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Roger Maris was born on in Hibbing, Minnesota United States
Roger Maris died on in Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota United States
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Roger Maris, who hit 61 home runs in 1961 to set major league baseball's single-season record, died today after a two-year struggle with cancer. Maris, who was 51, died at M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, where he had been hospitalized since Nov. 20. His wife Patricia Ann, with whom he had six children, was with him.

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Baseball's Roger Maris Dies of Cancer at 51 By News ServicesDecember 15, 1985 Roger Maris, who hit 61 home runs in 1961 to set major league baseball's single-season record, died today after a two-year struggle with cancer. Maris, who was 51, died at M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, where he had been hospitalized since Nov. 20. His wife Patricia Ann, with whom he had six children, was with him. The former outfielder, who gained his fame with the New York Yankees, was being treated for lymphoma, a cancer that invades the body's lymph system, according to Jane Brust, a hospital spokeswoman. "All baseball is saddened by the loss of one of its true heroes," Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said in a statement. "While he will be remembered for his brilliant assault of the home run record in 1961, we should also remember the courageous battle he fought against this dreaded disease these last two years." Yogi Berra, who had been his teammate on the Yankees, tried to visit Maris Friday but was told Maris was too ill. "It's a sad night," said Ralph Houk, the Yankees' manager during the 1961 season. "He was a great ballplayer and a great family man. He was modest, and winning came above any personal statistic." Maris' lymphoma was diagnosed in November 1983. At that time, a doctor said it had gone undetected for five years. Early last year, Maris said the disease was in remission, but he became ill again in August 1984. His condition had deteriorated since then despite an experimental cancer treatment in Nashville before coming to Texas this fall. At baseball's winter meetings this week in San Diego, a bloodmobile was set up to collect blood for him. Maris made his mark on baseball history by breaking one of the game's most revered records, the 60 home runs hit by Babe Ruth in 1927. That 1961 season produced many emotional highs and lows for Maris and left an asterisk after his name in the record books. Ruth had set his record when teams played 154 games and Maris hit his record-breaking shot on the final day of a 162-game season. "As a ballplayer, I would be delighted to do it again," Maris said in a magazine article after the 1961 season. "As an individual, I doubt if I could possibly go through it again." Maris was born Sept. 10, 1934, in Hibbing, Minn., but moved to Fargo, N.D., at the age of 10. He began his baseball career with the Cleveland Indians. He almost had decided to take a football scholarship to the University of Oklahoma in 1953 when a Cleveland scout saw him play in a summer league and suggested he try out with the Indians. Maris signed with Cleveland and made the Indians in 1957. He was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in 1958. Following the 1959 season, he was traded to the Yankees, where he won the American League's most valuable player awards in 1960 and 1961. He was traded again after the 1966 season, to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played two seasons before retiring. He called those two years "my happiest in baseball." Maris finished with 275 home runs, 851 runs batted in and a batting average of .260. He played in seven World Series, winning in 1961 and 1962 with the Yankees and in 1967 with the Cardinals. Maris started the 1961 season slowly. He had just one hit through four games and did not hit a home run until the 11th game. During the first three weeks of June, however, he hit 15 home runs and finished the month with a season total of 27. By mid-July, as the home runs continued, Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that if Ruth's record was tied or broken, it would have to be done in 154 games. Maris received hundreds of nasty letters from fans who said they did not want Ruth's record broken. "He should have been a hero," current Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said. Maris hit his 60th and 61st homers in the last week of the season, after he had passed the 154-game mark. His 61st homer came in Yankee Stadium off Boston's Tracy Stallard. After the 1961 World Series, in which the Yankees defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games, Maris said, "I just wanted to pull down the curtains and shut out the crazy world I'd just been through." Maris spent his later years as a beer distributor in Gainesville, Fla., where he said in an interview, "Maybe I wouldn't do it all over again if I had the chance. Sometimes I think it wasn't worth the aggravation." Larry Boulger, director of the Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo, said funeral services tentatively have been scheduled for Thursday at St. Mary's (Catholic) Cathedral there. He will be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Boulger said.

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Roger's lifetime.

In 1934, in the year that Roger Maris was born, on July 22nd, gangster John Dillinger was killed in Chicago. His gang had robbed banks and police stations, among other charges, and he was being hunted by J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI - although many in the public saw him as a "Robin Hood". A madam from a brothel in which he was hiding became an informer for the FBI and, after a shootout with FBI agents, Dillinger was shot and died.

In 1958, when he was 24 years old, on March 24th, Elvis Presley was inducted into the United States Army. Although he could have served in Special Services as an entertainer, he chose to become a regular soldier. Almost everyone thought it would be the end of his career - it wasn't.

In 1968, by the time he was 34 years old, on April 4th, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader, was shot and killed by an assassin in Memphis. James Earl Ray was apprehended and plead guilty to shooting Dr. King. Ray died in jail in 1998.

In 1973, he was 39 years old when on January 28th, the Paris Peace Accord was signed - supposedly ending the Vietnam War. Hostilities continued between North and South Vietnam and the U.S. continued to bomb. But by August 15, 1973, 95% of American troops had left Vietnam. The war ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon.

In 1985, in the year of Roger Maris's passing, on March 7th, the song "We Are the World" was released as a charity effort to alleviate the African famine. The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones. They were joined by 37 other famous singers in the recording studio and a phenomena had begun

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