Focus for golf tournament remains on raising money despite Maris anniversary.FARGO — This baseball season marks the 50th anniversary of Fargo’s Roger Maris hitting 61 home runs in 1961 to break Babe Ruth’s single-season Major League Baseball home run record.
By: Eric Peterson, Forum Communications Co.
FARGO — This baseball season marks the 50th anniversary of Fargo’s Roger Maris hitting 61 home runs in 1961 to break Babe Ruth’s single-season Major League Baseball home run record.
While organizers of the Maris Celebrity Benefit Golf Tournament are aware of the anniversary, the 28th annual edition of the event won’t look much different than the previous 27.
“We’re not doing anything real outlandish,” said event chairperson Denise Sargent. “We do celebrate that fact in the sense that it’s been 50 years, but we also understand that he wanted to make money for his charities, so we take that to heart.”
The Maris festivities start Sunday with the first flight of golfers at Fargo’s Rose Creek Golf Course along with the silent and live auction and celebrity banquet at the Holiday Inn. The tournament concludes Monday with the final two flights of golfers at Rose Creek.
“Rather than Roger Maris’ reputation and image diminishing, which really happens to a lot of older players, we find that it’s growing and that’s unique, and that is a cool part about this whole thing,” said Larry Scott, who is on the Maris board of directors and has been involved with the event for 25 years.
While not officially part of the Maris tournament, tonight’s Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks against Sioux City at Newman Outdoor Field will serve as a kickoff to the weekend.
Sargent said all six of Maris’ kids along with some of their spouses and kids were expected to attend Saturday night’s game at Newman. The RedHawks are handing out commemorative 5-by-7 Roger Maris baseball cards. Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant and Kevin Maris are slated to throw out first pitches. RedHawks general manager Josh Buchholz said Grant is expected to lead fans in the singing of the seventh-inning stretch.
“Just having the opportunity to have the Maris family there and honor Roger’s record and the start of his career with the (F-M) Twins, it’s great to be a part of that,” Buchholz said. “If we can play a small part helping the younger generation to get to know more about him, that’s a good thing.”
In its first 27 years, the Maris tournament has given more than $1.5 million to the Hospice of the Red River Valley, Fargo Shanley High School and Sanford Health’s Roger Maris Cancer Center.
Sargent said that ESPN contacted the tournament inquiring about having some of its personalities come to the event, but was unable to make something work with schedules.
“The fact that they are reaching out to us says a lot about Roger and what he did and the man he was,” Sargent said. “We all feel truly in our hearts that Roger is still the single-season home run king. He is our hometown hero. He was our hero not only as a baseball player, but as a man.”
Peterson is a sports reporter for
The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is
owned by Forum Communications Co.