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Davis on track to break Maris' record

FNS Illustration by Hayden Goethe / AP Photos Fargo's Roger Maris, left, still holds the American League single-season home run record of 61 home runs set in 1961. But that number is being challenged this season by Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis, right, who has 33 home runs in his team's first 88 games.

FARGO -- Despite having their careers separated by about 50 years, Roger Maris and Chris Davis might have more in common than you think.

Fargo's Maris set Major League Baseball's single-season home run record with 61 homers in 1961 for the New York Yankees.

That record has since been broken, but only by National League hitters. Maris' mark is still the American League record.

Many were surprised in 1961 when Maris -- who never hit more than 39 homers in any other season -- challenged Babe Ruth's mark of 60 home runs.

Davis finds himself in a similar position. The Baltimore Orioles slugger, who set a career high with 33 homers last season, finds himself chasing Maris' AL mark.

Davis has already hit 33 homers this season through his team's first 88 games. That pace would give him 61 homers for the season.

Maris' major league record stood for 37 years until Mark McGwire shattered the mark with 70 homers in 1998.

McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds have a combined total of six single seasons in which they hit more than 61 homers. The trio had one thing in common besides their links to "The Steroid Era": They all played in the NL.

Like Maris -- who was traded twice before finding a home with the Yankees -- Davis appears to be thriving after being dealt. Davis had a combined 44 homers in his first five big league seasons -- the first four of those with the Texas Rangers -- entering last year.

Davis recently said on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" that he considers Maris to be baseball's home run king, despite the numbers posted by McGwire, Sosa and Bonds.

"I do, and the reason being, he was the last guy to do it clean," Davis said. "There's a lot of things that have been said about the guys who have come after him and you know and have achieved the record, but I think as far as the fans are concerned, they still view Maris as being the all-time home run record (holder), and I think you have to."