Does McGwire News Change Roger Maris' HoF Chances?

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?

This entry was posted in Editorial and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Does McGwire News Change Roger Maris' HoF Chances?

  1. Rob Abruzzese says:

    Mostly I feel the same way as you Brian, but Maris won back to back MVP awards and certainly could have had a much more productive career if not for injuries. You could say that about a lot of guys, but Maris was mislead and lied to at least once and probably more times. I always felt badly for him because of that.

  2. Brian Burkhart says:

    The Hall of Fame is not for players with one historically significant season (and even that year, his 167 OPS+ isn’t exactly legendary). If Roger Maris is worthy of the Hall, so are countless others.

    Also, saying that players “started taking steroids” post-1988 is not true. I don’t want to necessarily suggest that Maris was using something, but steroids and performance enhancing drugs have been in sports for a long time (some signs point to as early as the ’50, but certainly in the 70s and 80s). We like to point to offensive numbers suggesting performance enhancing drugs, but remember – the pitchers can gain the same advantage. Offensive surges tend to correlate with expansion.

    It’s no accident that 1961 and 1998 were both expansion years.

  3. Greg Demeo says:

    I enjoyed Mr. Rob Abruzzese's article quite a bit. Well written and thoughtful. I would only add that I strongly agree that Roger Maris should be elected to the Hall of Fame. Times have changed and in view of the historical context, I feel that Roger did have an exceptional career. I do not want to get all sentimental or "touchy feely" but there are some intangible factors that should always be taking into account when assessing an athlete's greatness. I grew up in Boston and watched Roger during the 1960's. I wish that I had seen him play more. But any true fan watching Roger would have seen how exceptional he was. He was a great power hitter and a great fielder, not to mention a "winner". As a Red Sox fan, I saw how mistreated he was by fans, the press, etc and I also saw him play the Red Sox in the World Series of 1967. I was heartbroken as St Louis beat the Red Sox in 7 games with a great contribution from Roger, even though it was at the end of his career. Greatness can't simply be reduced to numbers. I say write a letter to the Veterans Committee of the HOF and get Roger elected. I have done it and I know that it was the "right" thing for Roger, his family and the Baseball Community.