Target:
Jeff Idelson, President, National Baseball Hall of Fame and the BBWAA Historical Overview Committee
Region:
United States of America
Website:
www.facebook.com

This petition calls for Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) and the BBWAA Historical Overview Committee to please honor the memory of former Cleveland Indians, Kansas City (now Oakland) Athletics, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals Outfielder Roger Maris (1934-1985) by selecting him as one of the candidates on the Golden Days Committee's ballot in 2020 for subsequent election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2021.

Introduction: Between 1957 and 1968, only 9 players hit more home runs and only 12 drove in more runs than Roger Maris (see below), and this is despite the fact that Maris only had 500 Plate Appearances (PA) in a season 4 times in his career. In 1974, Maris became eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In the 43+ years since, he has not been elected.

Most Home Runs from 1957-1968 (CAPS indicates Baseball Hall of Famer):

1. HANK AARON: 444 Home Runs (HR)

2. WILLIE MAYS: 435 HR

3. HARMON KILLEBREW: 388 HR

4. ERNIE BANKS: 381 HR

5. FRANK ROBINSON: 380 HR

6. MICKEY MANTLE: 363 HR

7. Rocky Colavito: 353 HR

8. EDDIE MATHEWS: 338 HR

9. ORLANDO CEPEDA: 301 HR

10. Roger Maris: 275 HR

Most Runs Batted in from 1957-1968 (CAPS indicates Baseball Hall of Famer):

1. HANK AARON: 1360 Runs Batted In (RBI)

2. WILLIE MAYS: 1242 RBI

3. FRANK ROBINSON: 1194 RBI

4. ERNIE BANKS: 1193 RBI

5. Rocky Colavito: 1094 RBI

6. EDDIE MATHEWS: 1018 RBI

7. ORLANDO CEPEDA: 1009 RBI

8. HARMON KILLEBREW: 985 RBI

9. Ken Boyer: 977 RBI

10. AL KALINE: 973 RBI

11. MICKEY MANTLE: 934 RBI

12. ROBERTO CLEMENTE: 901 RBI

13. Roger Maris: 850 RBI

Roger Maris quick facts:

◾ He hit a then-record 61 Home Runs in the 1961 season as a member of the New York Yankees (still the most by an American League player for 55 seasons and counting)

◾ He was a 7x AL All-Star (selected to 8)

◾ He was a 2x AL Most Valuable Player. Only three other players who've won multiple MVP's are not in the Hall of Fame: Juan Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, and Dale Murphy.

◾ He won a Gold Glove award in 1960. Roger Maris may have won only 1 Gold Glove, but he was a phenomenal fielder. His .9834 career fielding percentage in RF is 58th best among right fielders. That's better than 15 Hall of Famers. He also committed only 49 errors in his career, an average of just 4 per season. Roberto Clemente committed 142. Willie Mays committed 156. Statistically, Roger was one of the best right fielders of his time. If Roger wasn’t playing in the same position as Kaline, he would’ve won a lot more Gold Gloves.

◾ He played in 7 World Series in the 1960’s (the most of any player in that decade), winning 3.

◾ He had his #9 retired by the New York Yankees in 1984

Roger Maris' Career Stats:

◾ 1,463 games played

◾ 5,101 At Bats

◾ 826 Runs

◾ 1,325 hits

◾ 275 HR

◾ 850 RBI

◾ .260 career batting average

◾ .345 OBP%

◾ .476 SLG%

◾ .822 OPS

◾ .9834 career fielding percentage in right field

◾ Committed only 49 errors in his career

Hall of Famers compared to Roger Maris:

• Bill Mazeroski- A Second Baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1955-1972 and elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001 by the Veterans Committee, he had a .260 career average, just like Roger, a career .983 fielding percentage, again just like Roger, hit 138 career home runs (137 less than Maris), had 853 RBI (3 more), his OBP, SLG%, and OPS are all lower than Maris. Statistically, Maris was a better offensive player. While Mazeroski hit 86% more HR than the average second baseman over the same amount of PA as Maris, Maris hit only 61% more than the average outfielder in his career. Defensively, Mazeroski committed more errors than Maris, but won 8 Gold Gloves compared to only 1 for Maris. He played in 3 more all-star games.

• Hack Wilson- An Outfielder for the New York (now San Francisco) Giants, Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers, and the Philadelphia Phillies from 1923-1934 and posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979 by the Veterans Committee, he played 12 seasons, just like Roger, played in 1,348 games (115 less), had a .307 career batting average (47 points higher), hit 244 HR’s (31 less) and drove in 1,063 RBI (213 more). He hit 56 HR’s in 1930 (the most by an NL player until the famed home run chase of 1998) and he drove in 191 that year. That was his best season, statistically.

Reasons why Roger Maris should be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame:

• His 61 Home Runs in 1961: The author of this petition is very well aware of the fact that the Hall of Fame does not vote on any individual achievement, but this is the opinion of many people (not just this writer):
With two new teams in the AL in 1961, the season was expanded from 154 to 162 games. When Ford Frick, the Commissioner of Baseball declared that in order to break the record, it would have to be broken in 154 games (the same number Ruth hit 60 in), otherwise it'd be a separate and distinct record in the record book. Roger hit #61 in the Yankees last game of the season. Maris wasn’t able to handle the pressure because he was a straightforward guy. At one point, the stress of pursuing the record was so bad for Maris, he started losing his hair. The pressure was hard enough, but also think about hitting all those HR with 3 kids and a pregnant wife 1,200 miles away to worry about. If there’s any reason you should induct Roger Maris, it’s because of his 1961 season. What he went through was bad enough, but to go through all that pressure and stress and still hit 61 Home Runs that season is reason enough. When Ruth hit his 60th HR, it came in his 687th PA. When Maris hit #60, it was in PA #684. That's three less than Ruth. Also, can you name a 185-pound man that could go out and hit 61 home runs in a season today????

• His 1960 through 1962 seasons: In 1960, Roger batted .283 with 39 HR and 112 RBI, leading the AL in RBI, extra base hits (64), and slugging percentage (.581) and was voted most valuable player. See above for 1961. In 1962, despite hitting 33 HR & 100 RBI, a poll conducted by the United Press International (UPI) voted Maris as 1962’s “Flop of the Year." In that three year period, his 133 HR led the league and that’s more HR than Hall of Famer’s Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle EVER hit in ANY 3-year span of their respective careers.

• His ability to play through pain: In his first 3 years with the Yankees, Roger played in 454 games, hit 133 HR, drove in 354 and scored 322 runs. His last 4 years, he played in 396 games, hit 70 HR, drove in 193 and scored 197 runs. In 1963, he only played in 90 games. Over the next three seasons, he battled multiple injuries, including a broken hand and sprained ankle. He played through all of these injuries with pain and still contributed to the Yankees’ pennant runs in those years.

• His athleticism: He was a five-tool player. He may not have hit for average very well in the Majors (he had a .303 career average in the minors), but his Power was undeniable. He was an extremely fast runner. When he was in high school, Maris returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game, STILL a national record. He averaged 30 HR, nearly 100 RBI, nearly 150 hits, and nearly 100 runs scored in a 162 Game season Avg. Remember that Maris played half his career before the 162 game season expansion and half after it. Roger Maris was a phenomenal fielder as mentioned above. During that same time period, the average outfielder hit .261 while Maris' career average was .260. As stated above, Maris hit only 61% more than the average outfielder in his career. That may be true, but when you realize that Maris was playing in the same time period as Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, etc., hitting 61% more HR than the average outfielder is quite a remarkable feat.

Quotes about Roger Maris:

◾ “Roger and I were very close... I always liked Roger and respected him as an all-around ballplayer. He was one of the smartest players I've ever seen. He had great instincts for the game. He was the best all-around baseball player I ever saw. A Hall of Famer for sure in my book. He was a terrific outfielder, a great base runner, a marvelous slider. ”-Hall of Famer and former teammate Mickey Mantle

◾ “He was one of those guys whose eyes lit up when there were men on base”-Former teammate Bob Cerv

◾ “He was a complete player who could field, throw, and run”-Hall of Famer and former teammate Whitey Ford

◾ “I don’t think there’s ever been an athlete who had as much pressure over the length of time [the 1961 season] Roger did and handled it better”-Former teammate Tony Kubek in "Pinstripe Power"

◾ “If you had called every general manager in the league after the 1962 season and asked if they wanted Roger, they would have said ‘How fast can he get here?’”-Former Kansas City Athletics broadcaster Merle Harmon

◾ “I have so much admiration for the man. For the mental part almost more than the physical. I mean, can you imagine what it’s like to hit 61 home runs in a season? In New York? It’s like hitting 400… People don’t know what Roger had to go through”-Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson

◾ “A true Yankee”-Former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner

◾ “He was one of the best all-around outfielders I have ever seen”-Hall of Famer Hank Aaron

◾ “He was an outstanding, complete ballplayer. He could do everything a ballplayer is supposed to do on the field. He could play the outfield as well as anybody. He was a good player. He never made a bad throw... his head was always in the game. Roger was a tough player, very determined to excel, and very strong-minded... he belongs in the Hall of Fame. He was the most underrated ballplayer of my time.”-Former teammate Rocky Colavito

◾ In a telegram to Roger Maris after he broke Ruth’s record: “…The American people will always admire a man who overcomes great pressure to achieve an outstanding goal.”-Former President John F. Kennedy

◾ “Roger was a tremendous baseball player. He wasn’t just a home run hitter. He was a complete player and deserves to be recognized for it. Roger should be in the Hall of Fame.”-Former teammate Clete Boyer

◾"He was probably the best all-around outfield at that time [1961], everything-throwing, running bases, everything. He was that good. I had deep respect for Roger Maris."-Hall of Famer and former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning

◾"He could run, he broke up double plays, he was a great outfielder, had a great arm. He was a winner."-Former teammate Bill "Moose" Skowron

◾ "On defense I likened him to Joe DiMaggio. He was real smooth in his moves and always made the right play. Roger was a complete player for me. He is certainly a Hall of Fame player in my book."-Roger Maris' Manager with the Kansas City Athletics, Harry Craft

◾"Somewhere along the line, they are going to have to recognize the fact that he hit those 61 HR and that he did it playing alongside one of the greatest players of all-time-Mister [Mickey] Mantle. I would be inclined to think that Maris deserves to be in the Hall of Fame."-Hall of Famer Ted Williams

Conclusion:

Roger Maris may have only played 12 seasons, but that’s enough to get him elected. Don’t hold that against him. The HOF requires 10 years minimum. There are several players in the HOF who played 10-12 seasons. There are several players who had a lower career batting average than Roger’s .260. The Hall of Fame is a place for baseball immortals. He held the single-season home run record for 37 years. And he still should hold it 50+ years later. He held it for 3 years more than Ruth did. He hit 60 in less PA than Ruth. Roger Maris was a phenomenal player. Up until his premature death from Cancer at the age of 51 in 1985, Roger Maris was a great guy, a treasured, loyal & caring friend, and a terrific teammate who showed tremendous and admirable courage by handling all the resentment from baseball fans all over the world who didn't want to see Ruth's record broken. Elect Roger Maris the player and Roger Maris the man, not the Roger Maris that was falsely reported on.

Sources: The quotes and stats seen in this petition are from the following sources:
baseball-reference.com, "Roger Maris: A Man for all Seasons" by Maury Allen, "Roger Maris: Baseball’s Reluctant Hero" by Tom Clavin and Danny Peary, "1961: The Inside Story of the Maris-Mantle Home Run Chase" by Phil Pepe, and the film 61*

We, the undersigned, call on Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the BBWAA Historical Overview Committee to please honor the memory of former Cleveland Indians, Kansas City (now Oakland) Athletics, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Roger Maris (1934-1985) by selecting him as one of the candidates on the Golden Days Committee's ballot in 2020 for subsequent election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

By signing this, we're agreeing that we believe Roger Maris should be enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2021.

Signed,

The fans and supporters of Roger Maris


We, the undersigned, call on Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the BBWAA Historical Overview Committee to please honor the memory of former Cleveland Indians, Kansas City (now Oakland) Athletics, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Roger Maris (1934-1985) by selecting him as one of the 10 candidates on the Golden Days Committee's ballot in 2020 for subsequent election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

By signing this, we're agreeing that we believe Roger Maris should be enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2021.

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