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Roger Kahn
October 02, 1961
When he hit his 59th home run of the season in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium one night last week, Roger Maris stood one swing away from baseball's household god, George Herman Ruth. For the entire previous month, as he pursued the magic mark of 60, Maris lived under suffocating, unrelenting pressure—pressure such as no ballplayer has ever had to endure, not even Babe Ruth himself. Throughout most of that month Roger Kahn, on assignment from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, was an unobtrusive but constant observer of Maris' triumph and trials. Here is his story.
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October 02, 1961

Pursuit Of No. 60: The Ordeal Of Roger Maris

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"I don't have a favorite female singer."

"Well," the reporter said, "would it be all right if I wrote Doris Day?"

"How could you write Doris Day when I tell you I don't have a favorite?" Maris said, mystified by the ways of some journalists.

In Detroit after Maris hit his 57th home run off the facade of the roof in right center field, Al Kaline picked up the ball and threw it toward the Yankee dugout.

"Wasn't that nice of Kaline?" a reporter asked.

"Anybody would have done it," Maris said. "It was nice of Kaline, but any ballplayer would have done it."

In Chicago someone asked if he really wanted to break Ruth's record. "Damn right," Maris said, neglecting to pay the customary fealty to the Babe.

"What I mean is," the reporter said, " Ruth was a great man."

"Maybe I'm not a great man," Maris said, "but I damn well want to break the record."

Later Rogers Hornsby suggested a pitching pattern to stop Maris. "Throw the first two inside and make him foul them," Hornsby said, "then come outside so he can't pull. It would be a shame if Ruth's record got broken by a .270 hitter."

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