Ruth, Maris, And The Infamous Number 61

An article by posted on November 2, 2011

With steroids corrupting record upon record, we sometimes forget about arguably one of the biggest controversies in baseball at its time: Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 home runs.

On the final day of the 1961, Maris ripped his 61st home run to shatter the legendary Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record of 60. Many were furious at the occurance because of the fact that Maris played in a longer season than the Great Bambino did when he set the record in 1927, giving the new single-season home run king an unfair advantage.

Or was it an unfair advantage?

Ruth played in 151 games compared to Maris’ 161. The argument is that Maris had 50 more at-bats than The Babe over that ten game time-frame. Although it appears that Ruth was cheated out of his title, if you take a look at the potential at-bats, it tells a much different tale.

Potential at-bats are the number of times you step up to the plate, unlike at-bats which exclude walks, HBP and sacrifice hits. In 1927, Ruth walked a staggering 137 times; Maris was walked  only 94 times in his historic 1961 season.

So when broken down, Maris only stepped up to the plate seven more times than The Sultan of Swat.

So who is the true single-season home run king? I say: Roger Maris.

About the Author ()

Clayton Collier, a senior editor for MMO, is a Journalism major with a minor in Broadcasting at Seton Hall University. He is also a staff member at 89.5 WSOU, Seton Hall's modern active rock radio station. Following him on Twitter: @Clayton_Collier or E-maili him at MaybeNextYearMets@yahoo.com

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