Friday, February 25, 2011

It's Been 50 Years ... Put Roger Maris In the Hall Of Fame

Roger Maris is probably the third most famous historic baseball player that isn't in Baseball's Hall Of Fame. The others are Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson ... both of who are banned from enshrinement. Maris is, however, but he isn't in.

The year is 2011 ... so it's been 50 years since Maris' magical 1961 season where Maris broke Babe Ruth's single season home run record. 50 years later, it still is the record for most home runs hit in a single season in American League history. Only three players have hit more home runs than Maris' 61. Those guys are Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. All three have been linked to the Steroid Era and their numbers are tainted.

To many people, Maris' 61 still tops everyone. I'm one of those guys.

Think about this: Ruth's mark led for 34 years. Maris' lasted for 37 ... and, like I said, it is 50 years to people who don't count the Steroid players.

Sometimes a player's impact on the game means more than their actual numbers. While Pistol Pete Maravich is beloved by basketball fans from the 1970s, his numbers don't wow you. Neither does Joe Namath's. But those guys were bigger than the game. While you can argue that Maris wasn't a big name when he played, he's become quite an impactful figure since his retirement in 1968.

Maris' numbers aren't outstanding. He hit just 275 home runs and drove in 850 RBIs. His .260 career average is ... average. In his 12 seasons, he went to 7 World Series, winning three. He was a 7-time All Star. He also won two AL MVP awards.

Look, I get anyone's argument why he shouldn't be in. His numbers don't touch those typical levels that HOFers reach. I get that if it wasn't for those 1960 and 1961 seasons, his career is unremarkable. I totally understand.

But it is the Hall Of "Fame" and Maris' name has been linked to baseball's biggest single season achievement for 50 years now. The long ball sells and no one did that better in a season that wasn't on steroids than Maris. The man deserves recognition. With all the drama around the Hall with these cats from the Steroid Era every year, wouldn't having a stoic, sweet man who did it without chemical enhancement be a neat idea.

Maybe your kid will go to Cooperstown and find Maris' name among some of the slime that is or will be in the Hall. You'll get a chance to teach that child who he was.

Again, a neat idea.


Tom said...

Gotta say... I lived, breathed and LOVED the Mantle-Maris years but Roger Maris aside from those 2 seasons was very mediocre. You would have to make the argument that Don Larsen should be in the hall based on having the only perfect game in World Series history. The Hall is for those that had great careers... NOT just a great season or two. I love Roger but he isn't Hall material... sorry!

djpostl said...

The fact that Kirby Puckett is in, career ending injury/ailment or not, is reason enough to give serious consideration to Maris.

Jerry Breen said...

I always felt Roger's single-season home run record (still the REAL record after 50 years) was one of those records so important that it merited his inclusion in the hall by itself. But Roger was a player, like Jackie Robinson, who was better than his stats. He was a winner. When the Yankees traded him, the Yankees instantly became losers and the Cardinals became winners. He was one of the best defensive outfielders of his day. Even his stats were better than people realize. Did you know that Mantle only led the league in RBI once, while Roger did it twice? (As Casey Stengel would say, "You could look it up.") But more importantly, Roger was a model citizen and a credit to the game. The Hall would benefit from his inclusion. - Jerry Breen