Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rant #492: Ballantine Blast!

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first of Yankees outfielder Roger Maris' 61 homeruns that he hit in 1961.

He hit the homer off of Detroit Tigers' pitcher Paul Foytack at old Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

Maris would hit another 60 homers that season, eclipsing Babe Ruth's 60-homer record from 1927.

This accomplishment ignited a debate that has gone on through the ages--on both sides of the plate, so to speak.

The first argument was that Maris should not have the record, or at least his feat should be accompanied by an asterisk in the record book, because he hit his homers during a 162 game season. Ruth hit his homers in a 154 game season, so the thinking was that since Maris had eight more games to do it in, his record wasn't up to what Ruth did 34 years earlier.

Baseball commissioner Ford Frick contemplated doing this, but it never happened, although the debate has lingered now for 50 years.

The latest debate is something a bit different.

The debate centers around who has the real single season homerun record--is it Maris or Ruth, or is it Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds?

Ruth was fueled by hot dogs, cigars, beer and probably lots of women in his homer hitting, while Maris was fueled by Camel cigarettes and beer.

Those vices are bad enough, but McGwire and Bonds are another story altogether.

McGwire hit 70 homers and Bonds hit 73, but chances are they were juiced--the ballplayers I mean--with steroids, making their performances somewhat tainted.

Mind you, McGwire and Bonds took steroids when they weren't illegal in Major League Baseball.

But it is still looked at as cheating. They weren't the only ones who did it, and they had to have the talent before taking these things to reach those totals.

But their records are thought to be tainted by some people.

So who really holds the record?

By the numbers, it is Bonds, who is also the all-time homerun leader.

But purists will now support Maris as the single-season leader.

To me, a record is a record, and both Bonds and McGwire accomplished their feats when steroids were not illegal--yes, stupid to take, as it ultimately harms your body--but not illegal at the time.

So to me, Bonds holds the single-season record.

But Maris--his accomplishment was extraordinary.

And why is he not in the Hall of Fame?

Forget about the homerun hitting, this guy was the real thing. He could hit, field, throw, run--and he won two American League MVP awards, was in the World Series almost every year he played, and was pretty much a solid citizen.

All told, he was one of the best ballplayers of his day.

Why has the baseball world forgotten about Roger Maris, other than the 1961 season?

That is the most important question to be asked now, 50 years after his wonderful accomplishment.

The other stuff is nonsense.

I have to take the day off for medical tests, but I will be back on Thursday.

No comments:

Post a Comment


yasmin lawsuit