Maris back on the national stagePublished 6:00am Monday, October 21, 2013
Baseball fans watching the American League and National League playoffs this fall saw a familiar face during Chrysler TV commercials.
With a theme of “Road to Greatness” tied to hard work and honesty, who should appear but the late Fargo native and New York Yankee star Roger Maris.
During the commercial we see a newspaper clipping and photo of Maris. The headline reads, “61: Roger Does It,” recalling the 61 home runs hit by Maris in 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record that stood since 1927.
Although the record set by Maris was later broken by National League hitters Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, 61 remains an American League home run record.
Detroit baseball star Miguel Cabrera, who is predominant in the Chrysler ad, could reach the record set by Maris.
McGuire, playing for St. Louis, surpassed Maris in 1998 as did Sosa of the Chicago Cubs.
Bonds, playing for San Francisco, set the record of 73 home runs in 2001.
Those who passed Maris in home runs (McGuire, Sosa and Bonds) have been accused of using steroids and other drugs to enhance their performance. Many people, me included, believe that Maris still holds the all-time single-season record for home runs.
Major League baseball, however, did not have a rule against steroid use until the 2002 season, after Maris’ home run record was broken.
“Allowing the records of players who use steroids to stand sends a dangerous message to young people,” said Donald M. Hooten of the Taylor Hooten Foundation. “My son, Taylor, died at age 17 from using steroids. He was a varsity high school baseball player in Texas.”
Hooten said his son looked up to star players and was convinced that he needed to take steroids in order to play like his idols.
“Let’s keep baseball records meaningful by disqualifying the records of those found guilty of steroid use,” said Hooten. “Roger Maris achieved his success naturally and did things the right way.”
Ron Tate, a 1961 graduate of Fergus Falls High School who was home from Florida for a class 70th birthday party reunion, has some opinions about gerrymandering.
This topic has been in the news in recent days, tied to the federal government shutdown.
Gerrymandering has taken place to help incumbents turn their district into a packed one (for Republicans or Democrats) and reducing the potential for competitive elections.
“It’s a no win situation for many congressional challengers in Flordia, where I live, and in many other sections of the country,” said Tate.
The 2012 election provides examples of how partisan gerrymandering can adversely affect the political process.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives received 83,000 more votes than Republican candidates, yet the Republican-controlled redistricting process in 2010 resulted in Democrats losing to Republicans in 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 districts.
Democrats also have benefitted from gerrymandering in prior decades. Both parties are guilty of drawing up odd-shaped Congressional districts.
“It’s a sad situation at the present time,” said Tate. “Changes are needed in response to gerrymandering, but it won’t be easy.”
Twins players advance careers
In January 2006 Michael Cuddyer was in Fergus Falls as part of the Twins Winter Carvan which stopped at the Bigwood Event Center.
Fast forward to 2013 and Cuddyer is the National League batting champion as a member of the Colorado Rockies.
Also in Fergus Falls seven years ago, accompanying Cuddyer, was the late Harmon Killebrew, former Twins player and announcer Dan Gladden and infielder-outfielder Mike Redmond who later became manager of the Miami Marlins.
Killebrew played with the Twins 50 years ago, in 1963, when the team finished 91-70 and third place in the American League.
Otter Tail County baseball fans were among the 1.4 million people who attended Twins games at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, near the Twin Cities.