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Roger Maris 61 in ’61: A Record That Stands Alone 31

Posted on October 01, 2011 by Dean Hybl

It was 50 years ago that Roger Maris blasted a record 61 home runs in a single season.

It was 50 years ago today, October 1, 1961, that New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris broke what many thought was an unbreakable record by swatting his 61st home run of the season. Though his mark has now technically been eclipsed on six occasions by three different players, the accomplishment is still considered to be something special and now that there is testing for performance enhancing drugs might never again be topped.

Though Maris had been the American League MVP in 1960, no one expected him to threaten Babe Ruth’s hallowed mark of 60 home runs in a single season.

In the 33 years since Ruth had hit 60 home runs in 1927 the 50 home run plateau had been reached only 10 times with Jimmie Foxx in 1932 and Hank Greenberg in 1938 coming the closest with 58 home runs each.

The way Maris started the 1961 season, no one could have predicted that he would finish the campaign by breaking Ruth’s record.

Maris hit only one home run in 15 games during April and through the first 28 games of the campaign had only three homers.

Then on May 17th he started a streak of four straight games with a home run and then added five more home runs the rest of the month to enter June with 12 home runs.

Maris wasn’t the only Yankee who entered June with double digits in home runs. Mickey Mantle blasted seven homers in each of the first two months to enter June with 14 home runs.

In June, Maris slugged 15 homers and Mantle 11 to give both players totals near the pace of Ruth as the season neared its mid-point.

When the Yankees played their 81st game on July 8th, Maris had 32 home runs and Mantle 29 to put both players in range of the record.

Maris blasted four home runs in a double header against the Chicago White Sox to give him 40 for the season and people started to discuss the possibility that Ruth’s record could be in jeopardy.

When Maris then went eight straight games without a home run and ended up having one homer in a 16 game stretch, the attention started to shift to Mantle, who was still blasting long balls. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
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      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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