Monday, August 06, 2007

Roger Maris received death threats; only 23,000 were at Stadium for his home run

"In 1961, the year Randy Maris was born, Roger Maris and Yankees teammate Mickey Mantle were in a chase to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. Fans were rooting for Mantle to do it. Eventually, he fell off the pace. Roger kept going, but everyone made him feel undeserving, from the fans to the media to the commissioner.
  • Most thought only Ruth worthy of such a record. Yankee Stadium was not even full the day Roger belted No. 61 to surpass Ruth on the final day of the regular season. Commissioner Ford Frick, a friend of Ruth's, was not there, either. But Frick came up with the idea of putting the asterisk next to the record because Maris played in more games than Ruth.
When Randy got older, he heard about the death threats and the evil words directed at his daddy. Roger became very bitter.

"Baseball could have done a better job," Randy says. "There were only 23,000 fans in Yankee Stadium when my dad hit that home run. What kind of marketing is that? Obviously the commissioner was Babe Ruth's real good friend, but why would you put those kinds of restraints on one particular record? My dad didn't really like to talk about it."

Maris was traded from the Yankees after the 1966 season to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he played his final two years. But the hurt of what he went through in New York lasted for a long time.

George Steinbrenner tried reaching out to Roger for many years. He refused. Roger finally agreed in 1979, but only because he worked out a deal. He would come back if Steinbrenner donated the sod for a baseball field at Oak Hall school in Gainesville, where the Maris kids played."


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