Volume 92, Issue 14

Friday, September 25, 1998

it was sugar


Let Roger Maris rest in peace

Roger Maris does not deserve to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame – ever.

A blunt statement but one that needs to be said and clarified to all of those individuals that have concocted some sort of twisted perception that the former Yankee deserves the honour.

He was a good player – that can easily be deduced. Yes, he won back-to-back most valuable player awards. Yes, he broke the most sought after record with 61 home runs in 1961.

But he was not a great player. He had two great seasons in the pinstripes of New York but little else.

In total, he hit 266 home runs over a 12-year career, an average of 22 per season. Hardly a great accomplishment.

In his third best season (1962) he hit 33 homers with 100 runs batted in. Exactly what any team expects out of a clean-up hitter and not even a guarantee for a birth at the all-star game.

Still the fact remains that he did hold the entire country by his every swing in 1961 as he broke a record that was thought to be untouchable by a man that legends are built from – Babe Ruth. It wasn't the walk record or the doubles record he broke, it was the most spectacular and awe-aspiring record of them all.

And for this he does deserve a place in the Hall of Fame – but only in a display booth with a game jersey and a clipping from the New York Times with him splashed across the cover.

The bronzed plaques in Cooperstown are an entirely different story all together. They were not built for such achievement. They were created to honour those who had a number of great accomplishments over the entire course of their career.

We are talking names like Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Mark McGwire and Cal Ripken. Not Maris.

Yet thousands of people across America are so caught up in home run euphoria they cannot see through the haze and find reality.

According to newspaper reports, the Veterans Committee is receiving bags of mail each day making their demand for Maris' induction. They have even set up a website (http//:pw2.netcom.com/~houdini/maris.html) to take their case to the world of cyberspace with the ease of mass emailing.

And what are they claiming? Little of substance. All they have going for them is that Maris hit 61 home runs in one season. After that their argument is as useful as toilet paper.

Maris has the same fielding average as Mickey Mantle (.982) yet Mantle certainly did not get in for his glove-work in the outfield.

They claim that Maris' batting average (.260) was comparable to Harmon Killebrew (.256) and Reggie Jackson (.262). What they forgot to tell you was that Killebrew hit 573 home runs and Jackson 563 in their careers.

Come on, could they really be so desperate as to use these facts to back their argument.

The fact of the matter is Maris had his chance to get in. His name was on the ballot for baseball writers to elect him to the pinnacle of baseball and they didn't. This system has proven successful for decades so no one can claim it is faulty or biased. The individuals who voted not to induct Maris witnessed his accomplishments and made their choice accordingly.

Maris was a fad in 1961 and again in 1998 but there is no room in the halls of Cooperstown for tomorrow's news – it is there for legends.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998