Ironically, the 50th anniversary of the 1961 season when Roger Maris broke the single season home run mark coincides with the winding down of the steroid era. In 1961, the asterisk was put in place next to Maris' name by the Commissioner Ford Frick in an effort to discredit his accomplishment. Years later in 1991, the asterisk was removed as an apology for the unfair way this record was treated by baseball. The original logic of placing the asterisk next to Maris' name by baseball was for the integrity, the good of the game, and to preserve baseball's history. This was instated at the conclusion of the ’61 season to make it apparent to baseball fans that it took 162 games to break the 60 home run feat accomplished by The Babe in 154 games.
What did Roger do wrong? Follow the rules? Play the 162 game schedule that baseball put into place that year. As surprising as this might sound, at www.baseballsgreatesthitters.com, we would like to see this famous asterisk once again next to Roger’s name to bring attention to his accomplishment….but for a different reason.
We believe that since 1961, no player has legitimately broken this record. Between the 1961 season and the 1998 season, showcased many of baseball’s greatest sluggers such as, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthews, Frank Robinson, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, Richie Allen, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr. all of whom had a legitimate shot to break the record. However, all fell short, despite the fact that they were all better hitters than Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the two who broke the record in 1998.
When this website was launched in 2008, there was some consideration given to putting an asterisk next to the players who used steroids. We felt adding an asterisk or any other symbol next to their names would have drawn more attention to the steroid players. Instead, our goal is to focus on the players who did it the right way… give more accolades to the newest members of the 600 home run club, Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome, more headlines to Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones, Ryan Howard, Troy Tulowitzki, David Wright etc. Let's bring more attention to Albert Pujols, who perhaps at the end of his career, might be considered the greatest right-handed hitter in the history of the game. There is a more constructive use for the asterisk, one that will ensure that future generations of baseball fans can look back at the record book and make sense of what’s actually occurred…and it is magnificent in its simplicity.
*Roger Maris’s 1961 home run total remains the single season Home Run record for players not accused or suspected of utilizing Performance Enhancing Drugs. (Steroids)
The baseball record books cannot be changed, but a plaque in Cooperstown recognizing Roger Maris as the single season home run king would show MLB that baseball fans still recognize the 61 home runs hit in the 1961 season as the unblemished record. What better message to send to today and tomorrow’s future MLB players, what better way to preserve the integrity and history of the game and what better time to do so on the 50th anniversary of what baseball fans agree is the true record!
Please note: An asterisk was actually never placed next to Maris' home run record, but there might has well been one. Baseball, much of the media, and many of its fans treated Maris and the home run record in a negative way and did all they could to discredit his accomplishment.