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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 27 2009

Kolpack: Maris, Mantle were Forum interns

The 1961 World Series, like all of them, was a national media spectacle. The New York Yankees vs. the Cincinnati Reds, two of the fabled franchises in Major League Baseball.

But only one newspaper was able to get the inside scoop from the two biggest stars of the Series. For two weeks in October, the little old Fargo Forum had bylines by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

The M&M boys were our own player-interns.

After a 6-2 loss in Game 2 that evened the series at 1-1, they offered this paragraph: “We played like a bunch of bush leaguers. The hitting was terrible and the fielding was worse than that.”

Oh, the irony.

While Roger Maris was struggling to maintain his composure with the New York media, he and Mantle had no problem offering an honest assessment of their play in the copyrighted stories for The Forum. The New Yorkers wrote what they saw.

We printed what they felt.

“It’s not often you hear stuff like that,” said Randy Maris, Roger’s son who is in Fargo this weekend for the celebrity golf tournament.

So much has been written and said over the years about the battle of Roger vs. The Press. Randy was 24 years old when his father died, and he never got the chance to ask the question: What was it like?

“We always thought there would be a time later in life to do that,” he said. “We never sat down and talked about it. He died so young.”

Roger vs. The Press is a subplot to the movie “61*,” which will be shown tonight at the Fargo Theatre in an event hosted by Bob Costas and Billy Crystal. Quick: Name a movie where the media are portrayed as the good guys?

We’ll probably never know how Maris and Mantle got their stories to Forum sports editor Eugene Fitzgerald. All close to the situation are no longer around. It’s doubtful they went home, pulled up two chairs, put on fedoras and cranked out 20 inches on a metal typewriter.

Randy laughed at that thought.

A best guess is Fitzgerald stuck a tape recorder in front of both of them and then wrote what they said, in story form of course.

After Maris hit a home run in the ninth inning to beat the Reds 3-2 in Game 3, Maris “wrote” that it was the happiest he’d felt after a game this season.

And this was a season where he hit 61 home runs and broke Babe Ruth’s record.

The next day, you could only read all about it in the streets of Fargo and Moorhead.

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546 or jkolpack@forumcomm.com.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia