SCP Auctions April 2008 Live Auction


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/15/2008
Nineteen sixty-one turned the world upside down. JFK ignited his presidency with showdowns with Castro and Khrushchev; the Berlin Wall was raised, Judy Garland came back at Carnegie; Hemingway shot himself in Idaho; the interracial Freedom Riders risked their lives in trekking through the segregated south.

And, in sports, Roger Maris, not Mickey Mantle, challenged Babe Ruth's single season home run record.

In 1961, Maris did not homer in his first ten games, but by the end of July Maris had 40 home runs - six ahead of Ruth's record total that had stood since 1927.

"My going off after the record started off such a dream," the Yankee outfielder said. "I was living a fairy tale for awhile. I never thought I'd get a chance to break such a record."

However, the constant attention and pressure from the media started to get to him. Reporters lined up by the Maris locker after every game in every city. "How does it feel to be hitting so many home runs? Do you ever think of what it means?"

"How the hell should I know," Maris retorted.

By September, Maris was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. However, on September 26, 1961, Maris smacked his 60th against Jack Fisher of Baltimore, sending a high curve ball into Yankee Stadium's bleachers. "The minute I threw the ball," Fisher moaned, "I said to myself, that does it. That's Number 60."

Per sports author Harvey Frommer's recollection, "The record tying home run pounded onto the concrete steps of the sixth row in the third deck in Yankee Stadium.The ball bounced back onto the field and was picked up by Earl Robinson, the Oriole right fielder who tossed the ball to umpire Ed Hurley who gave it to Yankee first base coach Wally Moses who rolled it into the Yankee dugout. The ball and Maris, running out the 60th home run, arrived in the dugout of the Bronx Bombers at about the same time."

That night Maris signed an official American League ball (Cronin) for Milt Gross, columnist for the New York Post, Maris champion sports columnist for the New York Post, Maris champion, and the model for the character Milt Kahn in the film 61*.

Inscribed to Gross's son, 9-year old Michael, it reads, "To Mike Gross, Best of Luck, Roger Maris." On a side panel is written, "Sept. 26, 1961", #60." The ball is toned and appears to have been used.

Research has found that the official Maris 60th home run ball sits in the Roger Maris Museum, free to the public at West Acres Shopping Center in Maris's hometown of Fargo, North Dakota.

Per the dating, inscription to Michael Gross, "#60", etc., this ball, at the very least, is a commemorative ball from that evening and very possibly was used in the game.

Today Michael Gross is an esteemed writer, most recently author of "740 Park." Shown is a photo of Maris and Michael taken at spring training. Included is a letter from Michael detailing the night of September 26th, 1961 when his father brought the ball home for him and a copy of Milt Gross's 1948 book, "Yankee Doodles", a collection of profiles of DiMaggio, Rizzuto, Berra and other Yankee greats. Gross wrote for the Post for 24 years and contributed to The Saturday Evening Post, True and Sport. LOA from PSA/DNA.
6,000 USD - 8,000 USD

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