Neighbors: Reader remembers Roger Maris' kind heart
Neighbors ran a story awhile ago about Roger Maris, the baseball player from Fargo who became a major league baseball star. That prompted a man who played ball with Roger to send in his story. But first, Neighbors has to correct some misinformati...
Neighbors ran a story awhile ago about Roger Maris, the baseball player from Fargo who became a major league baseball star.
That prompted a man who played ball with Roger to send in his story.
But first, Neighbors has to correct some misinformation the original column carried.
That column said Roger played American Legion baseball for Fargo from 1949 to 1952 and Fargo won the state title each of those years.
However, Jack Brustad, Olathe, Kan., writes that Roger's last year of Legion ball was 1951, and Wahpeton won the North Dakota title that year behind the pitching of Steve Myrha, who later played with the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League.
Jack says his own first year of playing Legion ball was 1952 with Grand Forks, and Fargo won the state title that year.
Another reader, Shawn (no last name or town of residence given), also points out that the column mentioned Roger's friend who served with the Air Force at Andrews Air Force base in Texas. As Shawn says, that's wrong; Andrews is located in Maryland.
But now, having cleaned up the errors not made by baseball players this time, but by this column, let's turn to an email from Jerry Mehlisch, Fargo, who played for the old Fargo-Moorhead Twins baseball team in 1953-54 after stints with teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Fort Smith, Ark., Peoria, Ill., and Spartanburg, S.C.
"I attended Moorhead State College (now Minnesota State University Moorhead) in 1955-1959," Jerry writes. "I was able to play the first three years there, but then a ruling was passed that anyone who had played professionally could not play, so (manager) Larry McCloud made me a coach my senior year. I went on to teach and coach at Twin Valley, Minn., and Halstad, Minn., for four years while also playing and managing in the surrounding area from 1955 to 1963.
"I played with Roger in 1953. He had just graduated from Shanley High School (in Fargo).
"Roger had all the tools even then," Jerry says: "a great arm, a compact swing, he covered the outfield with his great speed and he had a willingness to learn. He was a team player.
"He was quiet and let his talent speak for him.
"I, and many fans across the country, believe he should be the legitimate home run king, due to the use of steroids and longer seasons (which came into play after Roger set the record for the time with 61 homers)."
"I have one story involving Roger's kindness," Jerry says.
"After a ballgame in Duluth, Minn., one evening, Roger, myself and three other players were on our way out to eat when we noticed a small coin purse on the sidewalk. Roger picked it up, noting there was about $10 in it, with no identification. We teased him that he had to share it with us.
"There was a homeless man not far from us, and we watched as Roger strolled up to him and gave him the coin purse.
"We all agreed that Roger did the right thing and we went to eat feeling better."
Jerry sent the above story to Neighbors before this year's Roger Maris Golf Tournament in Fargo.
Jerry said he was "looking forward to seeing Roger's beautiful wife Pat and his family" at the tournament
Well, Pat and the family were there, along with lots of memories of Fargo's great (and kind) home run hitter.
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email email@example.com .