Rick Sutcliffe, the 1984 National League Cy Young winner better known perhaps for his time on ESPN, was inspired by this week’s Hall of Fame discourse to advocate for Roger Maris, left behind on both last week’s Veterans Committee balloting and in the wake of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and several other inflated late-90s sluggers.
Maris’ single-season mark of 61 home runs stood for 37 years atop Babe Ruth’s total, giving the Yankees the top two spots for decades, until 1998, when McGwire and Sammy Sosa ran wild, rendering Maris’ asterisk debate from decades prior completely irrelevant.
You know, thanks to the introduction of a whole new asterisk.
Sutcliffe didn’t begin in the booth full-time the next year in ’99, and he doesn’t seem to harbor much nostalgia about baseball back in those days.
He brought forth an interesting proposal in response to a tweet memorializing the 37th anniversary of Maris’ untimely death, asking that the league’s record books be rewritten with the ex-Yankee atop the home run board once again. With better, more charismatic sluggers than ever in the modern game, Sutcliffe thinks this clean class deserves a shot at passing an untainted record — while also giving Maris his day in the sun once again.
Should Yankees legend Roger Maris’ 61 home runs be reinstated as MLB’s record?
61 is still a magical number, after all. Why not make it official?
Maris, unfortunately, received less than four votes in last week’s blind Hall of Fame balloting, so it might be time for today’s generation to take a refresher course after all. His case is not one of longevity, but his prodigious power certainly ticked off the “fame” column.
In a shortened peak from 1959-1964, Maris won back-to-back MVP Awards, made seven All-Star teams (two games a year, folks), and won a Gold Glove in the Bronx in 1960 — yes, the 25-year-old had range.
Unfortunately, things largely fell apart after that point, outside of playing a key reserve role on the 1967 World Series-winning St. Louis Cardinals.
A young Maris was a force to be reckoned with, and perhaps the extensive stress of the spotlit home run race led to his early breakdown. A Hall of Famer? Not quite, but certainly an incredible talent.
While Sutcliffe’s proposal is unlikely to find the right ear, we’ll take any opportunity we can get to recognize Maris, formally or informally.
We’d love to hear this brought up at this year’s Induction ceremony!