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James Hansen, Published February 22 2009

Highlight records of Maris, Aaron

Now is the time to give Roger Maris and Henry Aaron asterisks next to their names in baseball’s record book. The asterisks would signify steroid-free performance. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is considering returning the all-time home run record to Aaron if it’s proved that Barry Bonds used steroids. Aaron thinks it should be left alone: “You’d have to go back and change all kinds of records.” Maris would probably feel the same, but the commissioner should note in the record book that Maris and Aaron set the records the right way. If Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Bonds want an asterisk, they can prove they merit it.

Maris never did have an asterisk by his name. Commissioner Ford Frick stated during the 1961 season that if Maris or Mickey Mantle did not break the record in 154 games, then there should be a distinguishing mark next to the record. No mark was ever in the record books – Maris’ record was listed as 61 home runs in 161 games (one Yankee game, in which Maris hit a home run, was rained out) and Babe Ruth’s was listed as 60 home runs in 154 games. Maris, by the way, hit 60 home runs in fewer plate appearances (684) than Ruth (689).

Maris was a team player and a winner. Maris may never make it to the baseball hall of fame, but at least give him the asterisk that he was promised back in ’61.