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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 29 2010

Roger Maris Celebrity Golf tournament: Maris’ friends, family make new memories

Every spring, as sure as any remaining snow has melted in his hometown of St. Louis, Roy Sievers looks forward to his mailbox. The invitation to the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament is an event in itself.

The former major league baseball player of 17 seasons (1949-65) has an impressive longevity streak going in Fargo: He’s been to the Maris tournament for 22 straight years.

“Yes sir, great to be back,” he said Monday. “It’s a great tournament and the Maris family has just been super.”

Sievers got to know Roger Maris in the 1980s when they played in the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament in Sun Valley, Idaho, an event organized by former Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew.

“Roger was a great friend of mine and I appreciate them having me come up here and play,” Sievers said.

He gave a nice foreshadow to the significance of his 23rd straight appearance next year.

“Next year might be the biggest one,” he said. “It‘s the 50th anniversary of ’61.”

Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961.

Richard Maris: Gets first hole-in-one at tourney

It’s one thing for Richard Maris to get a hole-in-one.

But to do it like he did Monday at a tournament that bears his father’s name and with his mother Pat Maris watching, well, “that is really cool,” he said.

Maris aced the 152-yard fourth hole using a 7-iron. It was the first ace of his life.

He was playing in a group with his brother Kevin Maris and celebrities Russ Francis, Daniel Lee Martin, Bernie Allen and Ken Sanders. One celebrity not in the group, professional golfer Larry Ziegler, got the credit.

“I owe it all to my swing coach Larry Ziegler,” Richard Maris said.

Ben Jacobson: New arena vital to hoops success

Northern Iowa head men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson, who played both days at the tournament, led the Panthers to the NCAA Sweet 16 this year. Like UNI, North Dakota State is a mid-major Division I team.

Unlike UNI, the Bison do not have a modern basketball facility – yet. But plans are in motion to renovate the Bison Sports Arena. A new arena, Jacobson said, “is extremely important.”

“It changes the environment, the basketball game changes for the better for the fans and then it impacts everything else,” said Jacobson, a former NDSU assistant. “It impacts recruiting and it impacts all the things that are important to your program.”

Matt Cullen: Big week with NHL free agency

Thursday could be a big day for Moorhead native Matt Cullen. That is the first day of NHL free agency and it remains to be seen if Cullen’s current team, the Ottawa Senators, make a bid to retain him.

“It will be interesting to see what shakes out the rest of the week,” he said, taking a brief break from his golf group.

Cullen is coming off one of his better years with 16 goals and 32 assists in 81 regular season games. He was even better in the playoffs with three goals and five assists in six games.

“I think I probably helped myself this year, especially down the stretch,” he said. “I showed I could play different positions – wing in the playoffs, played center throughout my career and some defense on the power play. I think versatility in today’s game is a big deal.”

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.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia