Former Deadspin editor Will Leitch has come up with an admirable way to pay tribute to the former players of his favorite franchise while avoiding a jinx on their chance at a division crown. The St. Louis Cardinals hold a 9.5 game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central. With 18 games remaining in the season, that puts their magic number at 11. Rather than stating his team's daily number, Leitch substitutes the name of a former Cards player who wore that day's magic number on his uniform. I am stealing this idea.
His record-breaking 1961 season, in which he hit 61 home runs, is the only season of his career in which he led the league in the category.
Maris did not draw a single intentional walk in the year that he hit 61 home runs. Mickey Mantle batted behind him in the lineup for most of the year.
His last name was Maras at birth, but he changed it to Maris while playing minor league baseball after fans began rhyming Maras with unflattering words.
Maris was a talented three-sport athlete at Fargo High School. His success on the football field prompted Oklahoma Sooners coach Bud Wilkinson to offer Maris a scholarship. Maris initially accepted, but when no one greeted him after he arrived to campus via bus he turned around and went home to North Dakota.
Though the Yankees retired the #9 in honor of Maris, he is not the last player to wear it. Dick Simpson, Ron Woods, and Graig Nettles all wore the number before it was retired in 1984.
Five facts about Roger Maris:
9: Roger Maris
8: Yogi Berra
7: Mickey Mantle
6: Steve Sax
5: Joe DiMaggio
4: Lou Gehrig
3: Babe Ruth
2: Mike Gallego
1: Bobby Murcer