Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yankees Recognize Maris' 50th Anniversary

50 years ago this coming Saturday, October 1, Roger Maris stepped to the plate against the Boston Red Sox Tracy Stallard and sent a pitch into the right field seats for his 61st home run of the season. As the ball landed in the seats, the anxiety and stress of chasing the immortal Babe Ruth left Maris' body like an 800 pound gorilla jumping off his back.

Maris lost weight and his hair came out in clumps as he approached the ghost of Babe Ruth's legend. Then commissioner Ford Frick said the record would have an asterisk since Babe Ruth's record 60 home runs came in just a 154 game schedule. Everything had to be done to protect Ruth's legacy. But Maris did break the record and it held for 37 years until the first of two cheaters surpassed his mark.

With this weekend being the final regular season homestand, the Yankees honored Maris' legacy and his family with a ceremony at Yankee Stadium. In 1961 most Yankees fans wanted to see Mickey Mantle break the record. After all he was a lifelong Yankee. But 50 years later the Yankee Stadium crowd gave a huge ovation to Maris' widow Pat and their six children.

Captain Derek Jeter presented Maris' sons, Roger Jr., Kevin, Randy, and Richard with a bat used by their father. The ceremony came on a day when the Yankees were once again playing Boston.

On hand were former Maris teammates Yogi Berra, Bob Cerv, and Whitey Ford. Sal Durante, the then 19-yr old who caught the baseball was in attendance as well as Mickey Mantle's sons David and Danny.

If you ever in Fargo, ND, be sure to check out the Roger Maris Museum.

Red Barber's call of Maris' 61..not quite as effusive as Phil Rizzuto's call.

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