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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Roger Maris 60th homer curtain call: "most unusual". Number 61, too.

"This is most unusual." - Mel Allen on Roger Maris being called from the dugout in Yankee Stadium after tying the season home run record of Babe Ruth.  Maris reluctantly took a curtain call.

The curtain call has become so common that a rookie may take one after hitting his first home run and not think that he was being presumptuous.  Watch the grainy youtube video and listen to Mel Allen, the voice of the Yankees.

A week before in Baltimore the Yankees had played game number 154, the number of scheduled games in 1927 when Ruth had set the season home run record for the fourth and final time when he hit number 60.  Many, including me, thought that the old record should be broken in the first 154 games of the brand new 162 game schedule.  Commissioner Ford Frick, who as a writer knew Ruth, had stated so.  Now a week later with the tight pennant race against Detroit blown open and with teammate Mickey Mantle sidelined after being mistreated by a doctor suggested by Mel Allen and no longer in the race to hit 60, Maris was struggling in an anti-climactic but stressful setting.  Mantle finished with 54 homers in 540 AB.

Note: Both the 1927 and 1961 Yankees played a tie game and so 155 and 163 games respectively.

Tuesday, September 26, 1961, 8:03PM, Yankee Stadium I
Attendance: 19,401, Time of Game: 2:13
Yankees 3, Orioles 2

New York Yankees

Billy Gardner 2B5110015.231.287.314.601-0.0891.280.040-0.129-1.020
Tony Kubek SS3000013.274.303.395.698-0.0761.050.000-0.076-0.600
   Tom Tresh SS1010001.
Roger Maris RF-CF4121004.270.372.621.9930.0171.310.122-0.1050.410HR
Mickey Mantle CF0000101.317.448.6871.1350.0190.790.0190.0000.200
   Hector Lopez PR-RF1100203.
Yogi Berra LF2000113.271.329.464.7930.0271.740.096-0.069-0.030
   Jack Reed PR-LF1000001.
Elston Howard 1B4000014.356.393.562.955-0.1071.480.000-0.107-1.070
Johnny Blanchard C4021014.306.381.613.9940.0041.310.042-0.0370.0101
Clete Boyer 3B4000014.225.308.348.656-0.0520.730.013-0.065-0.504
Bud Daley P2010002.
   Rollie Sheldon P2010012.
Team Totals333824737.242.324.333.6580.0661.290.759-0.692-0.9278
HR: R Maris (60, off J Fisher, 3rd inn, 0 on, 2 outs to Deep RF).

As you can see Mantle left after walking once.  Hector Lopez replaced Mantle as a pinch runner 
and played right field with Maris moving to center.  So when Maris homered it was as a center fielder and it was Lopez, not Mantle, who greeted Maris at home plate.  It was the final appearance in the 1961 regular season for Mantle.

Maris broke the record in the final game of the regular season:

Sunday, October 1, 1961, 2:03PM, Yankee Stadium I
Attendance: 23,154, Time of Game: 1:57
Yankees 1, Red Sox 0

22 year old Carl Yastrzemski was in left field for the Red Sox batting third;
Yaz hit 11 homers in 583 AB in 1961.

HR: R Maris (61, off T Stallard, 4th inn, 0 on, 1 out to Deep RF Line).

Again Maris was playing center.  Yogi Berra was batting cleanup behind Maris
 and greeted him at home plate.

I watched neither game.  I do not even recall the Tuesday night game of number 60 being on TV.
I did not even listen on radio and do not recall it being that big a deal the next day.
Remember, there was no ESPN.

The final game when Maris hit number 61 was played on a Sunday afternoon
and I was watching the football Giants on CBS.  Trying to quickly change channels on TV sets back then was a treacherous activity and I did not even attempt to go back and forth between football and baseball.

New York Giants 24 at Washington Redskins 21

Both 42 year old Charlie Conerly and 34 year old Y.A. Tittle threw touch down passes for the Giants.
Kyle Rote, Del Shofner and Tittle scored TDs.  None spiked the ball.
It was Giant speedster Homer Jones around 1965 who was the first I recall doing that.

I recall but cannot prove that during the Giant game CBS interrupted and showed a tape, not film, replay
 of the Maris home run.  I know that the first INSTANT replay is supposed to have occurred
a few years later in an Army-Navy game but this was not instant.  Anyway, that's my recollection.

Again, Maris did a curtain call as his teammates pushed him out of the dugout to take his bow.

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