True American heroes are becoming more difficult to identify with because of all of the human drama infused with great accomplishments. In a by-gone era, American baseball players were heroes for going out game after game and performing to the best of their natural ability.
One hero whose life was cut short was Roger Maris. This product of the northern Midwest was a good-natured kid. He excelled at all of the high school sports: basketball, football, and baseball. After a short stint to Oklahoma on a full football scholarship, Maris decided that college life was not for him and baseball was his true calling. At 18, Maris signed his first baseball contract with the Indians.
Calvin and Peary do a good job in recounting the early years of Maris’ career, the lean years where he just played ball. The story continues with Maris’ trade to the legendary Yankees and the subsequent breaking of Babe Ruth’s all time home run record. The record run was mired in the controversy nicknamed the “asterisk.” This was when baseball commissioner Frick decided that the Babe’s record needed to be preserved, so he devised that the record could only be broken if the home run number was reached in the same number of games that Ruth played, an unfortunate change in the rules midway through the baseball season.
Maris was an undeserving hero in the eyes of many baseball fans as he took the record. Never a quitter, even after being traded from the Yankees, under another cloud as well, Maris persevered. He played several season in St. Louis with the Cardinals. Maris life was cut short when he died of cancer at the age of 51 in 1985. There are many reasons presented why Maris should keep the home run title, especially since he accomplished the record without the help of any chemicals. There is a touching scene when Maris is finally recognized at a Roger Maris Day Yankee stadium.
This book is a good read for not only sports enthusiast, but also for those that want to see what a true baseball legend went through. Clavin and Peary use clear language infused with seasoned baseball statistics. You feel like you were at many of the games.
By: Tom Clavin and Danny Peary
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