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Published April 10 2011

Honoring 50 years: Yankees, RedHawks and others plan to honor Maris

FARGO – Several celebrations have been scheduled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of former Fargo resident and New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61 home runs in 1961.

The New York Yankees will honor Maris during a pregame ceremony prior to a game against rival Boston on Sept. 23 at Yankee Stadium.

Members of the Maris family are scheduled to attend, according to the Yankees media relations department. Maris’ widow, Pat Maris, said this week that she hopes to attend the celebration.

Details of the ceremony and other attendees will not be finalized until later this summer.

The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the independent American Association will hold a celebration of Maris’ achievement before a game against Sioux City on June 25 at Newman Outdoor Field.

The RedHawks will also read a public address announcement during each home game to catch people up on where Maris was in his home run chase on that date in 1961.

The RedHawks will wrap up the season with a public address recap of the 1961 season.

The 28th Annual Roger Maris Celebrity Benefit Golf Tournament will honor the 50th anniversary of Maris’ home run chase throughout its event on June 25-27.

Details have not been finalized, according to Board chair Denise Sargent.

The golf tournament has raised more than $1.5 million for Hospice of the Red River Valley, Shanley High School and the Roger Maris Cancer Center.

The Maris Cancer Center has several events planned including:

The 61-for-61 Home Run Walk scheduled for Sept. 24. The event has been held since 1993.

A three-day radio fundraiser hosted by FOX 107.9 FM in late September. It has been held for 12 years.

A special event at Scheels Arena on Sept. 22 that includes several activities, live entertainment and a dinner. Cost to attend is $100. The complete program has not been finalized, said Vice President for Sanford Health Foundation Fargo Region Deb Soliah.

“We’re celebrating the anniversary of Roger Maris’ home runs, but we’re also celebrating the spirit of who Roger Maris was,” Soliah said. “We’re celebrating the determination with which he battled to have this amazing career. He became a hero to a lot of people in Fargo-Moorhead. This area is full of heroes in the battle against cancer.”

Maris played for the Yankees for seven seasons and captured the attention of the nation with his magical 1961 season.

Chasing down the single-season home run record of 60 held by Yankees legend Babe Ruth, Maris drilled No. 61 on the last day of a the season.

The record wasn’t broken until St. Louis first baseman Mark McGwire and Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa each eclipsed the mark in 1998. San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds currently holds the record with 73 home runs in 2001.

Maris’ single-season home run record of 61 homers was passed six times from 1998 and 2001. However, steroid allegations have cast a shadow on each of those seasons.

Ruth’s single-season mark of 60 was on the books for 34 years when Maris slugged 61. Maris was named the American League MVP as a Yankees outfielder in 1960 and 1961.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com