Tuesday, March 15, 2011

#202 Roger Maris

Roger Maris, posing for this shot in Yankee Stadium in 1958, his eyes focused on the right field stands. Little did he know how much he would accomplish right near that very spot just a few years later. This is a favorite of mine given the pose, color and view of my usual perch in the Stadium's upper deck, right behind home plate.

As with most stars in the set there is little need to touch on Maris' baseball numbers. Everyone with interest in these cards is familiar with him. But I like discovering and reporting small facts that may not be well known, such as.......
  • Roger Maris was born Roger "Maras" but later changed it. Haven't read a reason for this.
  • He was recruited to play football for the Oklahoma Sooners but went back to North Dakota after less than a semester on the OU campus.
  • Maris' first career homer was a grand slam in Tiger Stadium as a member of the Indians in 1957.
  • His back-to-back MVP awards in 1960 and 1961 represented the last time an American Leaguer had won consecutively until Frank Thomas in '93/'94.
  • Maris held the home run mark longer than Babe Ruth.
I saw two Maris homers in 1961 that I can remember and verify. They were #'s 52 & 53 for Maris that year and they came in the same game on September 2 against the Tigers. The second homer, in the bottom of the 8th, had come after my Dad and I had made our usual move to sit in the right field lower deck as the game got late. It was easy to make a quick run to the subway that way. During Maris' tenure in New York that was an interesting place to be. You had a great view of the abuse that Yankee "fans" heaped on him. In one game I recall seeing a metal grate or grill top similar to something from a small hibachi come flying from the upper deck above us and Maris. Firecrackers and other crap coming from the stands was routine. 

I think that stuff cemented my anti-Yankee feelings. Not that I disliked the players, on the contrary there were quite a few of them I greatly admired and rooted for. No, I was baffled by the fans and didn't want them to have the satisfaction of watching a successful team. Little good it did.

I'll always remember watching Maris' record breaking homer #61 on the last day of the 1961 season. Here is the video including Phil Rizzuto's memorable call................

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