Fifty years ago today, Roger Maris stood at the plate in Game 20 of the 1961 season and sent a pitch from Los Angeles pitcher Eli Grba into the bleachers. Thus, notching homerun #3 of his legendary season of 61.
It’s a little known fact that the three-time World Series champion, two-time AL MVP and former Golden Glove Award winner grew up in Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota. At the beginning of his professional career, Maris played for the minor league team in Fargo-Moorhead, which is now the independent F-M RedHawks (5-time Northern League champions, including 2009 and 2010).
Roger Maris’ 1961 season is the stuff that movies are literally made of: the chase of the Babe Ruth record and the Maris-Mantle friendship and rivalry while playing for the New York Yankees.
That baseball history and legacy can still be celebrated in North Dakota. A free museum/tribute dedicated to Roger Maris is located in the West Acres Shopping Mall in Fargo. And annually in June, the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament takes place in Fargo, benefiting Hospice and the Roger Maris Cancer Center. This year’s tournament will be held June 26-27 and team registration is currently open.
And if you want to see where it all began, consider being in the stands when the RedHawks open their season, May 16, 17 & 18 against the St. Paul Saints at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo.