Maris was seen as an awkward, shy guy compared to Mickey Mantle‘s attention-seeking persona.
Mantle was by far the most popular player on the Yankees and one of the best in the league, and people wanted him to break Babe Ruth‘s single-season 60-homer record.
The two started off the year strong and were on pace to beat the Babe, but Mantle became ill in September and was stuck at 54.
Maris continued the chase on his own, under constant media scrutiny and criticized by fans for not being worthy of the record.
To make matters worse, he did it after 154 games, which was the length of the season when Ruth played: the calendar changed to 162 games in 1961.
Maris started to lose hair out of stress, and the pressure was enormous.
Maris Overcame A Lot Of Adversity To Achieve Something Great
Yet he did it anyway: first, he tied Ruth on this day, but 61 years earlier.
“OTD in 1961, Roger Maris tied Babe Ruth with his 60th home run of the season. Tonight, Aaron Judge could tie Maris,” MLB tweeted along with some really cool footage of Maris’ blast.
OTD in 1961, Roger Maris tied Babe Ruth with his 60th home run of the season.
Tonight, Aaron Judge could tie Maris. 👀
— MLB (@MLB) September 26, 2022
Often overlooked in discussions about the Yankees’ best players ever, Maris was a true threat from the left side of the plate.
That 1961 performance actually landed him his second straight MVP award.
Tonight, as the Yankees visit the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Judge could be the one tying Maris’ 61-homer record.
In fact, with an inspired night, he can actually surpass him and establish the franchise record for long-balls in a single campaign.
It’s a great day to make history.