Former New York Yankees slugger Roger Maris was not actually born in the state of North Dakota, though he is closely associated with it. Born in Hibbing, Minnesota, Maris moved to North Dakota while still young and just learning the game of baseball.
He has a museum devoted to him in Fargo, ND where he grew up and developed his skills; admission is free. Eventually he became a legend with the Bronx Bombers by breaking Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs in a single season and winning two AL MVP awards.
There are players, current and former, who were both born and raised on the flat, open plains of North Dakota. They were subject to a truncated outdoor season due to the inclement weather most of the year and overcame that adversity, against all odds, as the pictured plaque says, to play professional baseball and football.
I can personally attest to this difficulty. During a vacation to the Flickertail State in late June years ago, I tried to throw batting practice to my nephew, Tyus.
All was well until a 40 mph wind suddenly started singing in my ears and hail eventually forced us inside. I believe it was the only time I have ever drank hot chocolate in June.
Becoming a professional athlete is an accomplishment no matter where a person was born. It is, however, more difficult when that place is North Dakota.
Here are some of the stories of individuals that have overcome that hurdle.