In 1974 Mickey Mantle was elected into the Hall of Fame. It was the first year Roger Maris was on the ballot and he received a mere 21.4 percent of the vote. Over the next 15 years Maris did not receive more the than 43.1 percent of the vote falling well short of the requirement to make it to Cooperstown.
The thing with Maris is that despite the fact that he had one of the greatest seasons in baseball history in 1961, hitting 61 homers to go along with a .269 average, a .372 OBP, .620 slugging, and a .993 OPS, his career numbers were ultimately not enough to make The Hall. In the years that followed 1961 Maris dealt with many injuries including in 1965 the Yankees hid the fact that he had a broken bone in his hand. Between the injuries and the pressure he dealt with in ’61 Maris didn’t have the career he could have had otherwise.
In the years since 1988, the last year he was on the Hall of Fame ballot, baseball has changed a great deal. Players started taking steroids and Maris’ record stood 37 years before being toppled. Then in ’98 it fell and then it fell again and again and again. In total it was surpassed six times, twice by McGwire, once by Barry Bonds, and three times by Sammy Sosa.
What I’m getting at with all of this is perhaps we should realize that after living through all of this it gives me a different impression of Maris’ career. His numbers are not impressive overall, but in the context of his career and the recent steroid era we’ve lived through maybe there should be a reconsideration of his Hall of Fame chances.
And his family feels the same way:
“The family would like to see Dad get into the Hall of Fame,” Roger’s son Kevin Maris told Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated. “He had a stellar career. He did things in the game that no one has ever done. It would be nice to see baseball right a wrong that has been going on now almost 50 years. I think a lot of fans assume he’s already in there, and when we tell him he’s not, they’re in awe, in shock. It would be nice to see baseball right an injustice.”
“The home run thing, we know Dad did it with hard work,” Kevin Maris says. “Back then, he didn’t even lift weights, it wasn’t part of his thought process. It’s going to be a tough decision for Major League Baseball. It’s not up to us to decide one way or the other. They’ll get it right. They’ve got a lot of stuff to sift through, things are going to come out. It’s not an easy decision on anyone’s part. We feel Major League Baseball is going to do the right thing.”
With the recent events of McGwire’s admission and the fact that Bonds and Sosa have been linked to steroids as well, perhaps the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee will reassess Roger Maris and his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
What do you think? Does this news give Maris a better chance to get into the Hall? Or does this change nothing?