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Posts Tagged ‘Roger Maris’

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris’ record setting 61 homeruns in 1961, The Captain’s Blog will be tracking his pursuit of Babe Ruth by listing each home run in the sidebar on the anniversary of the day on which it was hit. Details about each blast will be provided along with a running tally and a comparison to both Ruth and Mickey Mantle.

Commissioner Ford C. Frick presided over an era of expansion in major league baseball, but his career is often defined by an asterisk.

Long before Roger Maris took his first at bat in 1961, the baseball world was obsessed with Babe Ruth’s single season homerun record. Although no one had really challenged the mark since Hank Greenberg hit 58 long balls in 1938, everyone was talking about the possibility that the upcoming season would bring with it a new single season home run champion.

The impetus for the great debate was the American League’s decision to increase its schedule to 162 games (the National League would follow suit in 1962). The added games were needed to facilitate the league’s expansion to 10 teams, but that didn’t stop many in and around the game from fretting about the impact more contests would have on the record book.

There can be little doubt that with 388 games tagged onto the major league schedules each year due to the expansion, many records will be toppling faster than managerial jobs.” – UPI, October 27, 1960

Although concern was expressed about all of baseball’s individual and team records, only one was really on most people’s mind: the 60 homers belted by the Babe in 1927. Ironically, however, the general consensus among the informed was that although other marks might fall, Ruth’s home run record would persevere.

Everyone worries most about Ruth’s record of 60 in 1927, but adding eight games to the schedule wouldn’t threaten that mark, according to the recent trend.”Seymour Siwoff, Elias Baseball Bureau, quoted by UPI, January 21, 1961

Even Commissioner Ford C. Frick directly addressed the prospect of Ruth’s record falling as a result of the expanded schedule. “My opinion on that is almost a conviction,” Frick told Arthur Daley of the New York Times. “I don’t think the Babe’s record is vulnerable.”

At the time, Frick did hedge his bet by stating that he might decide to use a separate category to list records set during the extra eight games, but no definitive ruling was established at the time. After all, Frick didn’t expect there to be an issue. Before too long, however, Maris would throw the controversy right back into his lap.

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