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Tom Mix, Published June 24 2013

Maris golf event reaches milestone

FARGO – There is no official data kept on the longevity of charity golf tournaments, but it’s safe to say the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament is one of the longest-running, active events of its kind.

And with 30 years in the books, the event isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

This weekend marked the 30th annual running of the golf tournament named in honor of Maris, a legendary baseball player who won two American League Most Valuable Player awards and hit a record-breaking 61 home runs in 1961 while with the New York Yankees.

The milestones and staying power of the event continues to impress the Maris family.

Roger Maris Jr., 54, has been involved with all 30 tournaments and said hitting 30 years is special.

“To run this tournament for 30 years is incredible,” Roger Maris Jr. said. “First it is a tribute to my dad and second it is a testament to the hard-working people of Fargo. The tournament committee has worked so hard to keep the event going. They are so passionate about this tournament, and make sure everything is done in a first-class fashion.”

“Normally the lifespan of most of these charity golf tournaments are like seven to 10 years,” Roger’s younger brother, Randy Maris, added. “To go 30 years, it is just mind-boggling. You normally don’t see this kind of support from one community.”

The proceeds generated from the tournament are divided among the Roger Maris Cancer center, Fargo Shanley High School and Hospice of the Red River Valley. In the previous 29 years of the tournament, more than $1.7 million has been raised.

Randy, 51, said his father – who passed away in 1985 because of Hodgkin’s lymphoma – would be blown away with how the tournament appears today.

“Those first two years that he played the tournament, it was just a small gathering of friends,” Randy Maris said. “To see it now, he would just be amazed at the way it has grown. We have people coming from all over to take part in the tournament.”

The sustainability of the tournament is always something the Maris family and tournament organizers look at, but early indications suggest this year was a good one.

The tournament produced two days of sold-out golf, the banquet sold out and the live and silent auctions generated plenty of money despite the news that several items had been stolen from a storage facility prior to the event.

“It’s still growing,” Roger Maris Jr. said. “This tournament is run and organized in a top-notch fashion. Everyone wants to be here and be a part of it. As long as everyone continues to support the tournament and are passionate about it as they are today, who knows what happens. Maybe I’ll be talking about the 35th anniversary in five years.”

Roger said at least six people came up to him and said it was their first time attending the event during the banquet, which was held Sunday evening at the Holiday Inn.

Randy was also quick to give credit to the tournament’s committee.

“Our committee members are fabulous,” Randy Maris said. “How they go out and just see this event out every year is amazing.

“If it wasn’t for the people of Fargo, this event would have ended a long time ago with most of our family living in Florida,” Randy Maris added. “The time and commitment they put in year after year is outstanding. Events like this don’t last long if there isn’t a lot hard work behind it. We really appreciate it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562