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New 'Golden Days' committee renews hope for Maris Hall of Fame induction

Family will find out Sunday if their father makes coveted MLB Hall of Fame.

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Roger Maris. Forum file photo
The Forum

FARGO — Just about everything Roger Maris had that is of 61 historical significance is in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. The bat he used to hit his 61st home run, the baseball, his shoes and an ode to the movie “61.”

Pretty much everything but the man himself.

But hope has been renewed with the formation of the Golden Days Era Hall of Fame ballot, a group of nine former players and one manager who will be under consideration by a special committee for Hall of Fame induction.

Maris, the Fargo Shanley graduate, is in that select group.

“We’re just happy they're reconsidering his career,” said Kevin Maris, one of Roger’s sons.

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The hope, Kevin said, is that the committee will consider more than Roger’s statistics. He averaged 30 home runs and almost 100 RBIs over a 12-year career.

The pinnacle, of course, is the 61 home runs in 1961 that broke Babe Ruth’s record. That feat has stood the test of time in terms of notoriety.

“Without a doubt,” Kevin said. “He had some things that were pretty impressive that actual statistics might not show up. What he brought to the game and what he did for the game should be looked at in a whole different way.”

The other players being considered are Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce and Maury Wills, who spent many summers with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in retirement. Former manager Danny Murtaugh is also on the ballot. To be inducted, a candidate must receive at least 12 votes from the 16-member committee (75%).

The committee considers players whose primary contributions were from 1950-69 who are no longer eligible for the traditional way of being inducted.

The process is a byproduct of the old Veterans Committee.

Asked if there’s anything different from the new way for players like Roger to be considered, Kevin said, “No, not that I can tell.”

“Dad’s career really speaks for itself, what he brought to baseball,” he said. “I think that’s overlooked a lot of times. A lot of guys I think get caught up in straight numbers.”

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At least Roger is still in the Hall of Fame game, so to speak. Kevin Maris said he was listening to MLB analyst Harold Reynolds the other day, who assumed Roger was already in the Hall of Fame.

“They were shocked when he wasn’t,” Kevin said.

Roger died in 1985. His presence recirculated in 1998 when St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire passed Maris with 70 home runs, a record that was later tainted with the admission of steroid use. McGwire is not in the Hall of Fame.

“In ‘98, we were getting calls from all over the world, from countries that were never even mentioned as being interested in baseball,” Kevin said. “He had an impact world-wide, probably more than anybody who has played the game. A lot of times stuff like that gets overlooked.”

Maris is currently seventh on the MLB single-season list for home runs in one season. The other six spots by Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and McGwire have all been linked to performance enhancing drug use.

Kevin said the family has no real plans on Sunday. Results will be announced live at 5 p.m. (CST) on the MLB Network.

“Probably have dinner the way we normally do and hopefully they’ll give us a call that day,” he said.

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