MLB history: A look back at the 60 home run club

CLEVELAND, OH - 1927: Babe Ruth signing baseball before Indians - Yankees game at League Park. (Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images).
CLEVELAND, OH - 1927: Babe Ruth signing baseball before Indians - Yankees game at League Park. (Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images). /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 6
Next
(Olen Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
(Olen Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images) /

Roger Maris – 1961

Roger Maris had been a solid player heading into the 1961 campaign. He was a three time All Star, the reigning AL MVP, and had earned a Gold Glove award. Despite those accomplishments, he was in Mickey Mantle’s shadow, likely since Maris had only been with the team for two seasons after being acquired from the A’s.

The teammates were linked in 1961. Both were off to a torrid start when it came to hitting homers as they threatened Ruth’s seemingly untouchable record. The fans wanted Mantle to get the record as he was the more outgoing of the duo, but he faded down the stretch as injuries took a toll.

Maris, however, kept on hitting. While he was more focused on winning and wanted to stay out of the spotlight, the relentless pressure from the media caused tremendous stress. He began losing his hair and smoking more than ever. The chase even drew the attention of then commissioner Ford Frick, who declared that the record had to be beaten in 154 games or else there would be an asterisk.

In the end, Maris did get his 61st homer, taking Tracy Stallard deep on the last day of the season. Maris had his place in MLB history, but it came at the cost of his mental health and well being. He was still a solid player for the three years afterward, but was never able to come close to replicating his tremendous showing.

Those 61 homers still hold a controversial place in MLB history to this day. While the asterisk has long faded away and was officially removed, there is a debate about the actual single season home run king. Three players passed his mark, but there are questions about the legitimacy of those seasons. For a segment of baseball fans, Maris still holds that mark.