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Posts Tagged ‘Roger Maris’

In the book, “Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero” by Tom Clavin and Danny Peary, chapter one opens up with a story about how Bob Dylan became a fan of Maris during his 1961 home run chase.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“Among those rooting for Roger Maris as he closed in on Babe Ruth’s record in September of 1961 was a folksinger whose nascent career took off that month in New York City thanks to a rave in the Times and his first studio work. Although he wasn’t much of a sports fan, Bob Dylan felt pride when he learned that the ballplayer making national headlines also hailed from Hibbing, Minnesota.”

“Dylan was born in Duluth and didn’t arrive in Hibbing until he was seven and had nothing good to say or sing about it after he left and didn’t look back. So it’s ironic that he became the town’s favorite son, while Maris, who was born in Hibbing, was consigned to outsider status. The reason is that Dylan at least acknowledged he was from there. “It still burns me up that Roger claimed he was born in Fargo, North Dakota,” says Bill Starcevic, his childhood playmate in Minnesota. Roger didn’t care if the record books or trading cards got his birthplace wrong or if no one knew he’d changed his name to Maris from Aras in 1954, infuriating the many Marases of Hibbing. IF he thought something was trivial–or personal–he was surprised when others made a big deal of it.”

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ESPN New York released their “50 Greatest Yankees” list the other day. I can’t really argue too much with their list, although I probably would have swapped Thurman Munson (#12) and Bill Dickey (#10). Yes, I know Dickey is in the Hall of Fame and Munson isn’t. But it was Munson’s leadership, as much as anything else that returned the Yankees to their winning ways in the ’70s. And who knows what kind of numbers he would have put up if not for the plane crash?

Anyway, here’s their list. I’ve added in the dates they played for the Yanks, along with their position. An asterisk denotes a playing career interrupted by a military commitment; # denotes a Hall-of-Famer. Current players are in red type. Feel free to let us know how you feel about the list!

50. Mike Mussina (RHP, 2001-2008)

49. Bob Meusel (LF, 1920-1930)

48. Albert “Sparky” Lyle (LHP, 1972-1978)

47. Gil McDougald (IF, 1951-1960)

46. Jim “Catfish” Hunter (RHP, 1974-1978)#

45. David Cone (RHP, 1995-2000)

44. Roy White (LF, 1965-1979)

43. Hank Bauer (RF, 1948-1959)

42. Jack Chesbro (RHP, 1903-1909)#

41. Eddie Lopat (RHP, 1948-1955)

40. Rickey Henderson (1985-1989)#

39. Vic Raschi (RHP, 1946-1953)

38. Joe Gordon (2B, 1938-1946)*#

37. Tommy Henrich (RF, 1937-1950)*

36. Charlie “King Kong” Keller (LF, 1939-1949)*

35. Bobby Murcer (CF, 1969-1974, 1979-1983)

34. Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler (RHP, 1937-1947)

33. Willie Randolph (2B, 1976-1988)

32. Waite Hoyt (RHP, 1921-1929)#

31. Mel Stottlemyre (RHP, 1964-1974)

30. Paul O’Neill (RF, 1993-2001)

29. Graig Nettles (3B, 1973-1983)

28. Dave Winfield (OF, 1981-1990)#

27. Herb Pennock (LHP, 1923-1933)#

26. Allie “Superchief” Reynolds (RHP, 1947-1954)

25. Rich “Goose” Gossage (RHP, 1978-1983, 1989)#

24. Elston Howard (C, 1955-1967)

23. Earle Combs (CF, 1924-1935)#

22. Roger Maris (RF, 1960-1966)

21. Jorge Posada (C, 1995-present)

20. Phil Rizzuto (SS, 1941-1956)*#

19. Bernie Williams (CF, 1991-2006)

18. “Poosh ‘Em Up” Tony Lazzeri (2B, 1926-1937)#

17. Ron “Gator” Guidry (LHP, 1975-1988)

16. Andy Pettitte (LHP, 1995-2003, 2007-2010)

15. Reggie Jackson (RF, 1977-1981)#

14. Vernon “Lefty” Gomez (LHP, 1930-1942)#

13. Alex Rodriguez (3B, 2004-present)

12. Thurman Muson (C, 1969-1979)

11. Don Mattingly (1B, 1982-1995)

10. Bill Dickey (C, 1928-1946)#

9. Charles “Red” Ruffing (RHP, 1930-1942)#

8. Edward “Whitey” Ford (LHP, 1953-1967)*#

7. Derek Jeter (SS, 1995-present)

6. Lawrence “Yogi” Berra (C, 1946-1963)#

5. Mariano Rivera (RHP, 1995-present)

4. Mickey Mantle (CF, 1950-1968)#

3. “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio (CF, 1936-1951)*#

2. Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig (1B, 1923-1939)#

1. George “Babe” Ruth (RF, 1920-1934)#

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On October 1, 1961, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home run record (60) on the last game of the season. He ended up with 61 home runs in total. Throughout the 1961 season, Roger was considered an “outsider”, and wasn’t consiered “Yankee material.” Mickey Mantle was an American icon at the time, and a lot of fans didn’t want to see Roger break the record. He wasn’t very big on talking to the media, went about his business in quiet fashion, and was a family man. With all that said, he was sent hate mail by the fans and he was booed out of his own ballpark.

Maris’ record stood until Mark McGwire broke it in 1998, totaling 70HR’s on the season. Barry Bonds than hit 72HR’s in 2001. With all the people who admitted using steroids, and allegations surrounding others, many believe (including me) that Roger Maris still holds that single-season home run record. I didn’t grow up at that time, but from what I can tell….that was one magical season.

“It would have been a helluva lot more fun if I had not hit those sixty-one home runs.” – Roger Maris

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NEW YORK- SEPTEMBER 25: Alex Rodriguez

With the Yankees 1 strike away from another loss and lifeless night at the plate, Alex Rodriguez singled-handedly carried the Yankees to a much needed win tonight, catapulting the team into first place and burying any thoughts from New England that the Red Sox had a chance. Big homeruns are nothing new for ARod, as his inability to “come through in the clutch”, has always been more of a media and fan perception then reality (He’s hit as well in the post-season for his career as he has during the regular season). Yes, he’s a polarizing figure, because of his contract, former agent, the many dumb things he’s said and done throughout his career, but one thing is certain, ARod since joining the Yankees has been their best and most important player.

If we take a stroll down memory lane you will remember after the 2004 collapse, it was ARod who drew most of the heat (with Kevin Brown and Javy Vazquez feeling the wrath as well). The 3 members of the “Core 4” (Andy was in Houston), all underperformed that series (Mo blew game 4, Jeter and Posada both hit poorly), but had the 4 rings as currency. Two years later, Clueless Joe after 3 games dropped ARod to 8th in the lineup versus Detroit in the ALDS, heightening the feeding frenzy for both fans and media. In 2007 ARod carried the Yankees to the playoffs having a monster season and winning his 2nd MVP as a Yankee. To put that into perspective, before ARod you have to go back to the early ‘60s to find a Yankee that had won multiple MVPs (Mantle and Maris). However, despite Wang having an awful series and Jeter/Posada going a combined 5 for 32 with 0 HR, once again ARod was the scapegoat.

As we all know, last year ARod in the post-season carried an ineffective Yankees offense (Teixeira, Cano and Swisher were inept) getting several monster hits and this year despite a mediocre season by his standards, has come through repeatedly late in ball games. ARod generates headlines, brings fans to the ballpark, but above all in good times and in bad is the focal point of the Yankees. If you could pick one guy on the Yankees you would want up down a run in the 9th, who would you pick? I know who I would want up…ARod, the man, the myth, the legend, the face of the Yankees 27th World Series championship and hopefully a few more.

With that I’ll leave you with this final note: ARod during his 7 years as a Yankee has accumulated a 46.8 WAR, the next closest Yankee during that same time period has been Jeter with a 32.1 WAR. To give that disparity some context, you would have to delete ARod’s 2 MVP season’s (’04 – 6.6 WAR and ’07 – 9.2 WAR), to have their WAR values be similar. Yeah that ARod…he’s pretty good.

Follow me on Twitter @eddieperez23

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Click on the Image to Enlarge

(Graphic courtesy of Craig Robinson: Flip Flop Fly Ball)

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ESPN’s E:60 Profiles Yankees’ Nick Swisher:ESPN’s award-winning primetime newsmagazine E:60 will feature an exclusive interview with Nick Swisher of the New York Yankees and profile what he has brought to the team in the episode airing Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. ET.”

Psychic brought in to find Bambino’s piano: Lee Swanson, curator of the Sudbury Historical Society, said the piano was pushed onto the frozen pond by Ruth himself in 1918 so he could sing and dance with his neighbors. When the ice melted in the spring, it sunk to the bottom of the pond.” Talk about weird..

Strawberry’s Sports Grill: Darryl’s new restaurant in Queens opens this Thursday. He plans to have a very active role in the business. “I might surprise people sometimes – come out and be the waiter,” he said yesterday while leading the Daily News on an exclusive tour of the eatery. 

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Craig Mahoney of Craig Mahoney Studios took the time out of his busy schedule to have me on his first ever Pinstriped Podcast. Craig and I spoke about the current state of the Yankees, the Javier Vazquez situation, celebrity fans, as well as the new Roger Maris biography. Have a listen:

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

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For all of you guys that don’t know, there’s a new book out called: Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero (by Tom Clavin and Danny Perry). I just got the book a few days ago, and I find the history and behind the scenes stories fascinating. This is a MUST for any Yankee fan.

Book Info:
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Touchstone Books (March 16, 2010)
“It would have been a helluva lot more fun if I had not hit those sixty-one home runs.” -Roger Maris 

About the Book (Press Release):

The definitive biography of the baseball legend who broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record—the natural way—and withstood a firestorm of media criticism to become one of his era’s preeminent players.

Tom Clavin and Danny Peary trace the dramatic arc of Maris’s life, from his boyhood in Fargo through his early pro career in the Cleveland Indians farm program, to his World Series championship years in New York and beyond. At the center is the exciting story of the 1961 season and the ordeal Maris endured as an outsider in Yankee pinstripes, unloved by fans who compared him unfavorably to their heroes Ruth and Mantle, relentlessly attacked by an aggressive press corps who found him cold and inaccessible, and treated miserably by the organization. After the tremendous challenge of breaking Ruth’s record was behind him, Maris ultimately regained his love of baseball as a member of the world champion St. Louis Cardinals. And over time, he gained redemption in the eyes of the Yankee faithful.

With research drawn from more than 130 interviews with Maris’s teammates, opponents, family, and friends, as well as 16 pages of photos, some of which have never before been seen, this timely and poignant biography sheds light on an iconic figure from baseball’s golden era—and establishes the importance of his role in the game’s history.

ROGER MARIS may be the greatest ballplayer no one really knows. In 1961, the soft-spoken man from the frozen plains of North Dakota enjoyed one of the most amazing seasons in baseball history, when he outslugged his teammate Mickey Mantle to become the game’s natural home-run king. It was Mantle himself who said, “Roger was as good a man and as good a ballplayer as there ever was.” Yet Maris was vilified by fans and the press and has never received his due from biographers—until now.

“Forty-nine years later, Roger Maris remains the authentic single-season home-run king. Perhaps too little, certainly too late in recent years, he has been venerated and vindicated. Better yet, in these pages, he is appreciated.”—BOB COSTAS (more…)

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In the Yankees’ long line of history, they have retired in total 16 numbers for 17 players (Including Jackie Robinson) which is far above any other team in Major League Baseball history and over the course of the next 5 years will be adding more numbers to the list. Below is the list of current retired numbers with the appropriately named player for those numbers.

1 – Billy Martin
3 – Babe Ruth
4 – Lou Gehrig
5 – Joe DiMaggio
7 – Mickey Mantle
8 – Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra
9 – Roger Maris
10 – Phil Rizzuto
15 – Thurman Munson
16 – Whitey Ford
23 – Don Mattingly
32 – Elston Howard
37 – Casey Stengel
44 – Reggie Jackson
42 – Jackie Robinson
49 – Ron Guidry

Now, in the next decade, give or take, the Yankees will be adding more numbers to the already historic list. Personally, I believe the Yankees will retire all the below listed numbers.

2 – Derek Jeter
6 – Joe Torre
20 – Jorge Posada
21 – Paul O’Neill
42 – Mariano Rivera
46 – Andy Pettitte
51 – Bernie Williams

When do I think all these numbers will be retired? Hard to tell. Derek and Mo’s numbers are a given to happen within the first year or two of retirement. However, I don’t think Torre’s number will be retired with Brian Cashman working in the organization considering their falling out, but crazier things have happened. There is something that tells me Bernie and Posada’s numbers might take a little bit longer, but will eventually join Mariano and Derek’s numbers in time. Another issue that will come up is whether or not Pettitte’s number should be retired due to his admitted use of HGH. Now, I believe what he has told us, so I don’t think he should be penalized for what he has done. I mean, the Yankees have brought him back the last two years, so obviously they don’t think it’s an issue.

So there is the potential for 23 numbers for 25 players to be retired in the next decade, give or take, which is kind of crazy, but after this group gets their just due, it won’t be for a while that another number gets retired.

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The Goose speaks out about people who cheated the game and the Hall of Fame:

From the AP: 

NEW YORK – Goose Gossage watched Mark McGwire’s televised confession to steroids use and was happy his former teammate came clean. That’s where the praise ended, with the Hall of Fame reliever saying there should be no place in Cooperstown for McGwire or any other player who used performance-enhancing drugs.

“I definitely think that they cheated,” Gossage said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “And what does the Hall of Fame consist of? Integrity. Cheating is not part of integrity.”

For Gossage, Hank Aaron still holds the career record of 755 home runs and Roger Maris owns the season record of 61. The Goose tosses out the fantastic figures posted by Barry Bonds, McGwire, Sammy Sosa as part of a “cheating era,” dismissing them as if they were scuffed baseballs being rolled to the clubbies. He equated them with Pete Rose, barred from the Hall ballot because of his lifetime ban for betting on Cincinnati while managing the team.

“The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are all in jeopardy,” said Gossage, inducted two years ago. “I don’t think they should be recognized. Here’s a guy Aaron, we’re talking about the greatest record of all records. And he did it on a level playing field. He did it with God-given talent. And the same with Maris, absolutely. These are sacred records and they’ve been shattered by cheaters.”

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Mark McGwire finally came clean today and admitted to taking steroids during his baseball career. In a statement sent to the AP, he says that he used steroids on and off for nearly a decade. He used steroids when he broke Roger Maris’ baseball home run record in 1998.

“I wish I had never touched steroids,” McGwire said in a statement. “It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”

“After all this time, I want to come clean,” he said. “I was not in a position to do that five years ago in my congressional testimony, but now I feel an obligation to discuss this and to answer questions about it. I’ll do that, and then I just want to help my team.”

He called commissioner Bud Selig and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa earlier in the day to personally apologize. McGwire also used human growth hormone, a person close to McGwire said. Mark said he took steroids to get back on the field, which sounds a lot like our very own Andy Pettitte (who apoligized two years ago when he admitted using HGH).

It’s Barry Bonds’ turn to admit to taking steroids. Will Roger Maris ever get his home run record back?

Long Live 61* (more…)

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