Roger Maris as he belts record-breaking home run #61, passing Babe Ruth on the single-season list. (Photo courtest SportsThenAndNow.com)

The Top Ten Memories in New York Yankees History #4

There is only one true record for home runs during a single Major League Baseball season, that record was set by Roger Maris of the New York Yankees on October 1, 1961. It was the 61st of the season for Maris, and it was accomplished without any artificial boost in performance.

Should anyone have to go through what Maris has been made to endure? First, he had to face the backlash that went with breaking the longstanding record of Babe Ruth. His quest brought him public ridicule.

¨They acted as though I was doing something wrong, poisoning the record books or something,¨ Maris reflected later. ¨Do you know what I have to show for 61 home runs, nothing.¨ 

Not only did Maris have to deal with the ridicule of those who didn´t want to see Ruth´s record fall, but he had to overcome the sentiment of those who wanted to see his teammate, Mickey Mantle, set the record. In fact, Maris and Mantle battled throughout the season, until Mantle´s body caused him to shut down his pursuit.

Sometimes overlooked is that Maris also led the American League in runs scored that year with 132, and in RBI with 142. So it was a complete performance that should have garnered him much more admiration than he received. Even Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick failed to give Maris the respect he deserved. Frick refused to completely acknowledge the record because it happened in more games than Ruth played when he hit his 60.

So Yanks Go Yard honors Maris by selecting his 61st homer in 1961 as number four in our Top Ten Most Memorable Moments in New York Yankees history. In our eyes, it is the true record, despite what Barry Bonds might think. And going forward, only when a player exceeds 61 will he be considered as breaking the record.

So Roger Maris joins Derek Jeter, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Don Larsen, Bucky Dent and Mariano Rivera in our top ten list. Up next, moment number three on Yanks Go Yard.

Tags: Derek Jeter Mickey Mantle New York Yankees Roger Maris

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