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Published April 10 2011

Pat Maris: '(Roger) really didn't get a lot of credit'

FARGO – The widow of former New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris isn’t waiting by the phone for a call from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“It would be nice if they would do that,” Pat Maris said Thursday of inducting Roger into the Hall of Fame. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Roger Maris, who broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record by hitting 61 in 1961, has not received enough votes over the years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Pat Maris, who lives in Florida, said this week she wishes Roger could have received the honor while he was living. Roger Maris died of cancer in 1985.

“I think it’s kind of sad that he wasn’t appreciated the way he should have been,” Pat said. “He did do something nobody was able to do. He really didn’t get a lot of credit even from the Yankees. I think he felt bad about that.

“But he wasn’t someone who would ever say anything like that, or talk like that.”

Pat Maris said the Yankees recently reached out to her to be part of a 50th anniversary celebration of Roger’s 61 home runs in 1961 scheduled for Sept. 23 at Yankee Stadium. Pat said she plans to attend.

After he was traded from New York to St. Louis in 1967, Roger Maris stayed away from Yankee Stadium until former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner wooed him back for Opening Day in 1978.

“It was nice to see (Steinbrenner) appreciate the things that Roger did,” Pat Maris said.

Roger Maris hit .260 with 275 home runs and 850 RBIs in 12 seasons with the Yankees, Cleveland, Kansas City Athletics and St. Louis. He was the American League MVP in 1960 and 1961.

“It’s kind of like Bobby Richardson said at Roger’s funeral,” Pat said. “He’s in God’s Hall of Fame. And the other really doesn’t matter.”

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

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