Thursday, June 10, 2021

#155 Roger Maris - New York Yankees

Roger Eugene Maris
New York Yankees

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'0"  Weight:  197
Born:  September 10, 1934, Hibbing, MN
Signed:  Signed by the Cleveland Indians as an amateur free agent before 1953 season
Major League Teams:  Cleveland Indians 1957-1958; Kansas City Athletics 1958-1959; New York Yankees 1960-1966; St. Louis Cardinals 1967-1968
Died:  December 14, 1985, Houston, TX (age 51)

Roger Maris is best remembered for his pursuit in 1961 of the single-season home run record of 60 set by Babe Ruth in 1927.  His 61st home run on the final day of the season (and in the 162nd game) broke Ruth's record and ended an incredibly stressful regular season for the slugger.  Maris spent the summer and early fall hounded by the New York media and derided by fans who didn't want to see Ruth's record fall.  The record would stand until 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both pursued and ultimately surpassed Maris' mark.  Maris hadn't started his career under the microscope, playing for three seasons with the Indians and Athletics before a blockbuster trade in December 1959 sent him to the Bronx.  With the Yankees, Maris paired with Mickey Mantle (#350) to lead the team to two World Series titles in 1961 and 1962.  Maris was a seven-time All-Star, and a two-time American League MVP in 1960 and 1961.  He also won a Gold Glove in 1960.  During his historic 1961 season, Maris set career highs with 141 RBIs and 132 runs scored, leading the league in both categories.  In his seven seasons in New York, Maris hit .265 with 203 home runs.

Struggling with a hand injury, Maris was dealt to the Cardinals before the 1967 season and he'd help St. Louis reach and win the World Series in 1967.  He retired following the 1968 season after 1,463 career games in the majors.  For his career, he batted .260 with 275 home runs and 850 RBIs.  The Yankees retired his #9 in 1984, and Maris passed away from lymphoma in 1985.  He's on the new Golden Day Committee Ballot for potential Hall of Fame induction, with the committee set to vote at some point in 2021.

April 20, 2021 - Citizens Bank Park
Building the Set

April 19, 2021 from Los Angeles, CA - Card #259
I had no intention of actually winning this card from a recent Greg Morris Cards eBay auction.  Stuck in a grueling virtual work meeting one afternoon, I ventured over to eBay to browse the listings for a few of the bigger cards still needed for the second series of our set.  With my recent bad luck at winning auctions hosted by Greg Morris Cards, I was less than optimistic the amount I entered as my highest bid would end up winning this card.  But to my surprise it did, and the card arrived a few days later.

Checking in at this point on our set's progress, we're 43% of the way there with quite a few big star cards yet to go.  I'm going to keep chipping away at the second and third series cards with the hope to hit the half-way mark with the set by the end of June.  With a live baseball card to look forward to in Valley Forge in mid-June this seems like an attainable goal.

The Card / Yankees Team Set
Two things struck me upon first examining this card.  First, it clearly shows the prematurely grey hair I had read somewhere was caused by the stress of Maris' 1961 season and second, the only thing Topps needed to mention on the back of the card was his 61 home runs hit that season.

1965 Season
This was the season in which both Maris and the Yankees began a steady decline.  Maris had broken his hand but attempted to play through the injury, appearing in a career-low 46 games.  He batted .239 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs while missing all of July and appearing in only four games as a pinch-hitter between August 18th and the end of the season.

1958 Topps #47
1961 Topps #2
1962 Topps #313
1968 Topps #330
1979 Topps #413

Other Notable Baseball Cards

First Mainstream Card:  1958 Topps #47
Topps Flagship Set Appearances (15):  1958-1968, 1975, 1979, 1986, 2001
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  2021 Topps Tribute #83

1,524 - Maris non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 5/1/21.

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database

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