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Roger Maris

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Roger Maris Essay

Roger Maris was born in Hibbing, Minnesota on September 10, 1934. His father, who worked for the Great Northern Railroad, moved the family to North Dakota in 1942where Roger grew up. The Maris brothers played sports and attended Shanley High School in Fargo, North Dakota. It was in the 10th grade when Roger met Patricia, his future wife, at a high school basketball game.

Roger played baseball in the American Legion program during the summers, since the North Dakota high schools with the cold weather did not have a program. He led his American Legion team to the state championship. With his excellent speed, Roger was a standout in football as well. In one game against Devil's Lake his senior year, he scored four touchdowns on kickoff returns to set a national high school record.

Roger was recruited by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson to play for the University of Oklahoma, but with a professional baseball contract looming, Roger gave up his scholarship at the University of Oklahoma to pursue a career in baseball. He signed a $15,000 contract to play for the Cleveland Indians organization.

Roger spent four years in the minor leagues playing for Fargo-Moorhead, Keokuk, Tulsa, Reading, and Indianapolis before making it to the major leagues.

During his first year in the major leagues, Roger hit 14 home runs and drove in 51 RBI's for the Cleveland Indians. Midway through his second year, Roger was traded to the Kansas City Athletics and finished the season with 28 home runs and 81 RBI's. Roger received attention and in his third year, was elected to the 1959 All-Star team.

After the 1959 season, Roger Maris was traded to the New York Yankees. In 1960, his first season with the Yankees, Roger led the major leagues with 27 home runs and 69 RBI's by the halfway point and was again named to the All-Star team. An injury sliding into second to break up a double play caused him to miss 17 games. However, Roger still finished the season first in RBI's with 112, second in home runs with 39 (one behind Mickey Mantle who led the majors with 40), won the Gold Glove Award, and was named the American League's Most Valuable Player. He also hit 2 World Series home runs, but it would be for the following year that he would be most remembered.

In 1961, Roger and teammate Mickey Mantle received national attention as they chased the single season home run record of 60 set by Babe Ruth in 1927. Although Roger got off to a slow start hitting only 1 home run in April, he quickly made up ground hitting 11 home runs in May and 15 home runs in June. The two Yankee sluggers went back and forth leading the majors in home runs during the summer. Roger became the first player in history to hit 50 home runs by the end of August. Mantle had 46. The Yankees continued to win and were playing to sellout crowds both at home and on the road. An unfortunate illness to Mantle in September caused him to miss games at the end of the season, but he still finished with a career high 54 home runs.

Roger tied Ruth on September 26th, hitting his 60th home run of the year. Then, on October 1, 1961, the final day of the season, Roger hit his 61st home run, against the Boston Red Sox, to set the new home run record. The Yankees won the game 1 to 0 on Roger's home run, and went on to win the World Series that year. Roger was named the Most Valuable Player in the American League for the second straight year, as he led the league in home runs and RBI's. Roger and Mickey also set the home run record for teammates hitting 115 home runs between them.

In 1962, Roger hit 33 home runs. He also drove in 100 RBI's and was selected to the All Star team for the 4th straight year.



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