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Roger Maris

Roger Maris

Baseball's Reluctant Hero

Tom Clavin and Danny Peary chronicle the life and career of baseball’s “natural home run king” in the first definitive biography of Roger Maris—including a brand-new chapter to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his record breaking season.

Roger Maris may be the greatest ballplayer no one really knows. In 1961, the soft-spoken man from the frozen plains of North Dakota enjoyed one of the most amazing seasons in baseball history, when he outslugged his teammate Mickey Mantle to become the game’s natural home-run king. It was Mantle himself who said, "Roger was as good a man and as good a ballplayer as there ever was." Yet Maris was vilified by fans and the press and has never received his due from biographers—until now.

Tom Clavin and Danny Peary trace the dramatic arc of Maris’s life, from his boyhood in Fargo through his early pro career in the Cleveland Indians farm program, to his World Series championship years in New York and beyond. At the center is the exciting story of the 1961 season and the ordeal Maris endured as an outsider in Yankee pinstripes, unloved by fans who compared him unfavorably to their heroes Ruth and Mantle, relentlessly attacked by an aggressive press corps who found him cold and inaccessible, and treated miserably by the organization. After the tremendous challenge of breaking Ruth’s record was behind him, Maris ultimately regained his love of baseball as a member of the world champion St. Louis Cardinals. And over time, he gained redemption in the eyes of the Yankee faithful.

With research drawn from more than 130 interviews with Maris’s teammates, opponents, family, and friends, as well as 16 pages of photos, some of which have never before been seen, this timely and poignant biography sheds light on an iconic figure from baseball’s golden era—and establishes the importance of his role in the game’s history.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416589297 | 
  • May 2011
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Roger Maris, baseball's greatest unsung hero

Roger Maris: The Life of Baseball's Reluctant Hero is the first definitive biography of the life and career of the amazing baseball legend.

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PROLOGUE

OCTOBER 1, 1961

THE SAVVIEST PHOTOGRAPHERS GOT the two money shots.

The first, taken from behind and near the Yankee dugout, was of Roger Maris making solid contact over the plate on a 2-0 fastball by Tracy Stallard. The left-handed pull hitter is exhibiting his much praised swing with extended bat and arms parallel to the ground, his left hand turning over, his right leg straight and left leg flexed, his right foot pointing toward third base and his left one perpendicular to the ground, his muscles in his face, neck, and upper arms tense, and his hips rotating.

The second picture, taken from... see more

About the Authors

Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write Roger Maris?

A. 1961, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home-run record by smashing 61 homers, was the most exciting sports year of my youth. I always felt Maris should have been a hero then and forever because of his achievement but instead he was punished by fans, the media, and his own organization, the Yankees. His reputation was tarnished and his great deed was belittled. I was intrigued that things haven't changed and Maris and his record have never been given their due.

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