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Maris' hometown sorry to see record fall

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Posted: Tuesday September 08, 1998 11:11 PM

  Fargo didn't want to see Maris' record broken because of his hero status AP

FARGO, North Dakota (AP) -- Orv Kelly remained reclined in his chair at his home Tuesday night when Mark McGwire broke local hero Roger Maris' home run mark by crushing No. 62 out of the park.

No cheering. No clapping. One four letter word.

"Well, that takes care of that," said Orv Kelly who has known Maris since 1951.

Fargo is Maris' hometown, his burial place and where his museum is located, and many here didn't want to see his record broken because of his hero status. Kelly was among those here who said he still didn't like to see the record go down even though he knew it was coming.

McGwire's historic No. 62 was a lined shot to left, punctuating a chase that reinvigorated the sport and captivated the nation.

The home run shot was hard to watch for Kelly, whose Lincoln Continental license plate is '61 in 61' for the 61 home runs Maris hit in 1961, setting the record that would stand for 37 years. Kelly, who proudly displays Roger Maris bats and souvenirs, is also active in the Roger Maris Charity Golf Tournament.

There was no organized gathering of old Maris friends. Most were watching the game from their homes.

Don Gooselaw, who has known Maris since the mid 1940s, said he felt a since of relief now that Maris' record has been eclipsed.

Gooselaw said his eyes swelled up a little. "I think maybe now he'll get his due and get elected to the hall of fame," said Gooselaw, whose eyes swelled up when McGwire hit the home run.

Gooselaw said McGwire looks to be as good a representative as Maris was in holding the record.

"He deserves it, I think," Gooselaw said of the St. Louis Cardinal slugger. "If he hits anymore this is going to be a tough record to break for another 37 years."

Mike Engh, who played legion ball with Maris when they were children, said Maris will never be forgotten for his achievements in professional baseball. "Not around here they won't," he said.

Engh, who was watching the game in the Fargo Knights of Columbus bar, said he hopped Maris would be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Isabelle Weaver, who knows the Maris family well, was happy to see McGwire go over to the Maris family after the home run.

"Didn't he do that right?" Weaver said. "That's great."

McGwire connected with two outs off Steve Trachsel, setting off a wild celebration in Busch Stadium. He was so caught up in the moment that he missed first base as he rounded the bag and had to return to touch it.

McGwire was mobbed by his teammates at home plate, where he hoisted his 10-year-old batboy son Matt into the air.  

Related information
Sports Illustrated Flashback: If either Mantle or Maris hits 61 home runs this season, will he break Ruth's record?
Maris: 1961 -- A Photo Gallery
With 62 out of the way, how many more will McGwire rip in '98?
Roger Maris' Career Statistics
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