New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Roger Maris

Roger Maris (Baseball. Born, Hibbing, MN, Sept. 10, 1934; died, Houston, TX, Dec. 14, 1985.) An excellent defensive outfielder with an exceptional arm and a good baserunner, Roger Eugene Maris (originally Maras) was also a winner. Maris played in seven World Series in his final nine seasons in the major leagues. To a great degree, Maris had his career overshadowed by his greatest accomplishment – hitting 61 home runs in 1961 to break the single-season record of 60 set by Babe Ruth in 1927, setting a major league record he held for 37 years, and an A.L. record he has held for over 50 years. After splitting three seasons with Cleveland and the Kansas City A’s, Maris came to the Yankees Dec. 11, 1959, from the A’s in a deal involving six other players. He hit 133 homers in his first three seasons with the Yankees (driving in 354 runs), almost half the 275 he hit in his 12-year major-league career (1957-68). It was then 296 down the line in right at the Stadium and 344 feet to straightaway right, and the wall was just 44 inches high on average in front of the stands, making an ideal target for Maris’ line-drive stroke. In 1961, he and teammate Mickey Mantle excited the sports world with their home run duel, but an injury sidelined Mantle in September, and he wound up with 54. On Oct. 1, 1961, Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at Yankee Stadium. Many fans rooted for Mantle and older writers revered Ruth, so Maris’ feat was not popular, but, in the end, he held the single-season crown longer than the Babe did (37 years to 34). He played in the World Series five times with the Yankees (1960-64) and twice with the St. Louis Cardinals (1967-68), hitting six homers. He later ran a Budweiser beer distributorship.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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