On October 9, 1961, the New Yrok Yankees won game five of the World Series, earning their 19th World Championship. They beat the Reds at Crosley Field, 13 - 5. Check out some of our favorite pics from this historic fall classic.
On October 1, 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season. With that swing of the bat, Maris became the first player to hit 61 home runs in a single season, surpassing Babe Ruth and his 60 home runs. The game was played at Yankee Stadium, on the final day of the regular season, against the Boston Red Sox. In his first at bat in the bottom of the first, Maris flied out to deep left field. He came to the plate again in the 4th, and this happened .
The ball was caught by 19 year old truck driver Sal Durante, who received $5,000 in return for the ball.
Asterisk or no asterisk, October 1, 1961 was one of the most memorable days in the history of baseball.
On September 10, 1934, Roger Maris was born in Hibbing, Minnesota. He was the son of Croatian immigrants and his birth name was Roger Eugene Maras, which he later changed to Maris. Maris played with four teams during his twelve year Major League career -- the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals. He appeared in seven World Series and won three World Series Championships in 1961, 1962, and 1967.
Maris was the New York Yankees right fielder from 1960-1966 and he helped lead the Yankees to five straight pennants. Maris is primarily remembered for breaking Babe Ruth's home run record. On the last day of the Yankees' 1961 season, Maris broke Babe Ruth's 60 single-season home run record (which had been in place for 34 years) by hitting his 61st against the Boston Red Sox. Maris hit the homer into right field stands in Yankee Stadium against Boston's Tracy Stallard in the fourth inning. In 1966, the Yankees sent Maris to St. Louis, where he played two seasons before retiring in 1968 and settled in Gainesville, Florida.
On July 21, 1984, the Yankees retired Maris' number 9 and dedicated a plaque in his honor to hang in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium.
"When he (Roger Maris) hit it (home run #61 in 1961), he came into the dugout and they were all applauding. I mean, this is something that's only happened once in baseball, right? And the people were all applauding. They wanted him to come back out. He wouldn't come out, so the players had to push him back out. They forced him to come out and take a bow. That's the kind of guy he was. He was great, and I really liked him." -- Mickey Mantle
Asterisk: A Symbol (*), used to highlight a particular word or sentence, often to indicate a footnote; A blemish in an otherwise outstanding achievement. This typographical symbol can send chills down a professional athlete's spine as it increasingly appears on stat lines.
In 1961, two Yankee bombers from Murderer's Row battled and raced to break Babe Ruth's home run record. Roger Maris was immediately cast as the villain trying to steal a teammate's thunder. That teammate was fan, and press, favorite, Mickey Mantle. Despite going through abuse, threats and even hair loss, Maris went on to hit sixty one single-season home runs, breaking the unbreakable record set in 1927 by Babe Ruth. This feat was welcomed, not by congratulations and applause, but by disappointment and heartbreak because The Mick was supposed to take the top spot on the all-time homer list.
Immediately following the 1961 season, Baseball Commissioner, Ford Frick, decided since the same number of games had not been played, the record would not stand and thus marked it with an asterisk.
"They acted as though I was doing something wrong, poisoning the record books or something. Do you know what I have to show for sixty-one home runs? Nothing. Exactly nothing." – Roger Maris, 1980.
Keep an eye out later in the year for our 1961 Roger Maris jersey...