Maris just keeps looking betterThe mighty keep falling and our guy Roger Maris keeps looking better and better. Maybe it’s time those on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee take notice.
By: Mike McFeely, The Forum
The mighty keep falling and our guy Roger Maris keeps looking better and better. Maybe it’s time those on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee take notice.
It won’t happen, of course, because Maris not being in the Hall is a big story only in North Dakota. The last time the Veterans Committee considered candidates for induction, in September, Maris didn’t even make the final list of 10 players who were actually voted on. The 64 living Hall of Famers and select media members on the committee, like many voters before them, don’t view Fargo’s greatest hero as anything close to Hall worthy.
But, funny, as time passes it becomes clearer that most modern-day sluggers who’ve bashed hundreds of home runs are cheating scoundrels.
Alex Rodriguez is only the latest. On the career home-run list, five of the top 12 names have either admitted to juicing or been implicated in the steroids mess.
Maris’ 61 home runs in 1961 now sits seventh on the single-season all-time list. The six spots ahead of him are occupied by Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. None have admitted to cheating — and they never will — but all have been strongly implicated. And Hall voters have seen fit to blackball McGwire because of those implications. The same fate clearly awaits Sosa and Bonds.
It’s time the pendulum swings the other way. If Hall voters are willing to penalize those who used steroids, how about taking a look at those who set the hallowed records and did so without visiting the pharmacy?
This isn’t to say Maris should be rewarded solely for being clean, but perhaps its time 61 in ‘61 is looked at in a fresh light. If you dismiss the numbers posted by Bonds, McGwire and Sosa — and you should — Maris’ record year is now 48 years old. Nobody clean has been able to bop 62 homers in nearly a half-century.
Does that make Maris a Hall of Famer?
One could make the case, because every year that passes makes the 1961 season look like it was a one-time moment in history. It cannot be said that the record will never be broken, but would you bet a week’s pay that somebody will hit 62 homers in your lifetime?
The No. 1 issue that kept Maris out of the Hall has not changed. That is his lack of career numbers. Maris was a .260 hitter, with 275 home runs. His career, frankly, was a handful of outstanding years surrounding by good ones.
That was the argument I used for years when pooh-poohing Maris’ worthiness for the Hall. No more. The A-Fraud revelations, and those that came before (and those that are still to come) have shined Maris in a different light. That one magical year keeps getting more magical. It’s time Maris is recognized for it.
If only there was a chance those holding the power to put Maris in the Hall of Fame viewed it the same way.
McFeely is a columnist for The Forum, which along with The Dickinson Press, is owned by Forum Communications Co. E-mail him at email@example.com and read his blog at www.areavoices.com/mcfeely.