Year of the Asterisk
by Evan Stair
As this is written two major league baseball players, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are nearing a record which has stood since 1961. They are doing so amid the cheers and accolades of many major league baseball fans. However, the story was different in 1961.
New York Yankee Roger Maris, who broke the record of 60 season homeruns held by larger than life Babe Ruth, was not a favorite among New York Yankee fans, or rather New York Ruth fans. You see he broke the record on the last day of the season in that year erasing Ruth’s record. In some cases he was even booed by the New York Yankee faithful. Maris never returned to Yankee Stadium after he retired from the game. He feared for his life. He knew he would be forever booed and hated for destroying the myth of the Yankee Babe.
An Unearned Mark
Added to this injustice is the fact that for the thirty seven years Maris’s record has been tarnished by an Asterisk because he played in more games than Ruth. Diehard baseball fans claim that Maris didn’t really break the homerun record since he had more games to accomplish the feat.
Maris’ other accomplishments are noteworthy.
In addition to the home run record which he held for 37 years, he was elected back to back American League MVP. However the biggest slap to Maris’s memory is the fact that Maris has yet to be elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Removing the Mark
After all of these years the Asterisk will be removed next to the homerun record will be removed. It is expected that the most controversial record in major league baseball will no longer be ruled by the legacy of the Ruth dynasty after the record is broken.
The erasure of this punctuation mark is long overdue. However, if McGwire sets the record will he be remembered with an Asterisk for the use of muscle building drugs? Will Sammy Sosa be remembered with an Asterisk due to the fact that he plays half of his home games in Wrigley Field which is known as a home run hitter’s dream? Will both be remembered with an Asterisk for the fact that they set the record in an expansion year with an extended season?
The pages of history yellow as time passes. The “foot” has been all but removed from football as the forward pass now dominates. Basketball players now fly to the hoop and dunk the ball rather than “lay it up.”
Almost all Hockey Players wear protective helmets now and Babe Ruth’s record will soon be fourth in the record books under season homeruns. However, before baseball forgets Roger Maris as others surpass his record, please elect him to the Major League Hall of Fame as the final mark of respect that will appropriately punctuate his career with an Exclamation Mark instead of an Asterisk.