Major League Baseball Player. For 12 season (1957 to 1968) he played right field for the Cleveland Indians (1957 to 1958), Kansas City Athletics (1958 to 1959), New York Yankees (1960 to 1966), and the St. Louis Cardinals (1967 to 1968). He is best remembered for breaking Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60 home runs with 61 home runs during the 1961 season, although he did it when the season was expanded to 162 games versus 154 when Ruth set the previous record in 1927. Born Roger Eugene Maras (he later "Americanized" his last name to Maris) to parents of Croatian origin, he grew up in Fargo, North Dakota where he attended Shanley High School and excelled at sports. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma but returned home after one semester and signed a minor-league contract in 1953 with the Cleveland Indians. He excelled in the minor leagues and in four seasons, he batted .303 with 78 home runs. He made his Major League debut with Cleveland on April 16, 1957 and hit 14 home runs in his rookie year. In the 1958 season he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics ant hit 19 home runs in 99 games. The following year he hit 16 home runs and represented Kansas City in the All-Star game despite missing 45 games due to an appendectomy. He was then traded to the New York Yankees and in his first season he hit 39 home runs and led the American League in slugging percentage, runs batted in, and extra base hits, winning the American League's Most Valuable Player award along with a Gold Glove Award. In 1961 he began his trek to break Babe Ruth's home run record. After 154 games, he had 59 home runs and on the last game of the season, he hit his 61st home run. His remaining five years with the Yankees were often plagued with injuries and in December 1966 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he helped them to win the 1967 and 1968 National League championships before retiring at the end of the 1968 season. Over the course of his major league career, he played in 1,463 games with 826 runs scored, 1,325 hits, 275 home runs, 850 runs batted in, and a .260 batting average. He played on seven pennant-winning teams (1960 to 1964 for the New York Yankees, 1967 and 1968 for the St. Louis Cardinals), two world champion teams (1961, 1962 for the New York Yankees and 1967 for the St. Louis Cardinals), an American League All-Star (1959 to 1962), American League Most Valuable Player (1960 and 1961), and was named the Sporting News Major League Player of the Year in 1961. After leaving baseball he and his brother owned and operated Maris Distributing, a Budweiser beer distributorship in Gainesville and Ocala Florida. In 1983 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and he died two years later iat the age of 51. Although he was never elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, in December 2014 he becomes eligible to be identified as a Golden Era (1949 to 1972) candidate for possible election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2015. His uniform number (9) was retired by the New York Yankees on July 21, 1984 and a plaque was dedicated to his honor in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Also in 1984, The Roger Maris Museum, dedicated to his life and career, opened at the West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo. His home run record was surpassed by Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and Barry Bonds in 2001. He appeared in the films "Safe at Home!" (1962), "That Touch of Mink" (1962), and "It's My Turn" (1980).
Bio by: William Bjornstad