Sports Auctions and Fine Collectibles
Now being auctioned at BidAMI.com on November 7th at 8PM. Join Us.
A little about the player:
Roger Eugene Maris (1934-1985) was a mild mannered right fielder from North Dakota who was catapulted into superstardom during the 1961 season as he and fellow Yankee outfielder Mickey Mantle chased the great Babe Ruth’s single season home run record of 60. Roger spent two years with the Cleveland Indians (1957-1958) and Kansas City Athletics (1958-1959) respectively, before joining the New York Yankees where he achieved his greatest success. Maris displayed excellent patience and poise at the plate, as well as power, early on in his career, blasting 14 home runs as an Indians rookie and 28 the following season with the Tribe and the A’s. Roger reached the Bronx Bombers as a certified power hitter clouting 39 in his fourth season, adding 141 hits, 112 RBI and posting a .283 batting average, en route to the 1960 American League Most Valuable Player Award. Maris began the 1961 season having reportedly said, “Nobody will touch it… it’s a rare year when anybody hits 50 homers, let alone 60”, in reference to Ruth’s monumental record of 60 home runs in a season. Maris and Mantle, the M&M Boys, gave the record a run with Mantle crushing 54 before being sidelined with a hip infection. Maris, however, through extreme adversity and stress, hit his record breaking 61st home run on the final game of he season of Boston’s Tracy Stallard. Maris was again named 1961 AL MVP and he helped guide the Yanks to his second World Series, where they were victorious over the Cincinnati Reds. Roger Maris was a member of five American League pennant winning Yankee teams, winning the World Series twice (1961, 1962) and a member of two National League St. Louis Cardinals pennant winner, winning the World Series in 1967. Maris was a seven-time All-Star selection and was the 1960 Gold Glove recipient. Roger Maris retired after two seasons with St. Louis with totals of 1,325 hits, 826 runs, 850 RBI, 275 home runs and a career .260 batting average.
On September 26, 1961 Roger Maris tied Babe Ruth’s long standing record by hitting a home run off Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jack Fisher at Yankee Stadium. Offered is a bat accompanied by strong provenance that it was the one Maris used to accomplish the feat.
Most notably, is the personal inscription from Maris, “To Bill/Best Wishes/to a good Club House man/Roger Maris/#60/9-26-61.” The Bill referred to was Billy Nizer the visiting clubhouse attendant for the Baltimore Orioles (1959-61). In 1979, Nizer sold many prizes he acquired during tenure to Federal Hill Autographs (FHA) located in Baltimore (including this very bat). FHA later auctioned it.
Included with it is a copy of the original auction catalog listing and Nizer’s signed letter of sale to FHA – dated 9/24/79 which lists the Maris bat among items sold and identifying it as the “bat from Roger Maris when he broke Babe Ruth’s homerun record”. Also included is a copy of an article from Baltimore’s The Evening Sun newspaper featuring a profile on Nizer and a letter from Nizer’s widow (he died in 1981) confirming his purchase. It notes that she typed the letter of provenance and sale to FHA in ’79 for her husband when he sold his collection.
The bat is a Roger Maris H&B signature model (A92) dating from 1961-63 labeling period and was graded GU 9 by PSA/DNA Bats. It measures 35″ and weighs 32.5 oz. Factory records indicate that Maris ordered A92s exclusively from March 14, 1961 – July 27, 1961. The orders specify 35″ with weights 32-34 oz. This bat at 32.5 oz. is consistent with one of the 32/33 oz. orders.
The bat shows tremendous use along the entire length of the barrel. It features ball marks, stitch impressions, a light coating of pine tar on the mid-handle and a crack on the handle.
Attempts to photomatch the bat were inconclusive. Taube wrote: “Visible in two photos (see attached) of Maris hitting his 60th home run are two dark spots on the barrel of his bat that are not present on the subject bat. Not knowing the source of the dark spots, we can only speculate as to the possibility that the spots have faded or have been removed after 52 years. The bat does appear to have a very light pine tar application similar to the subject bat.” He concludes: “Taking into account the evidence at hand, it is our opinion the bat was signed by Maris on the evening of September 26, 1961, after hitting his record tying 60th home run of the season. Direct attribution as to the use of the bat by Maris to hit the 60th home run cannot be confirmed nor denied.”
We must note that the Baseball Hall of Fame has a bat in its possession that it claims was used by Maris to hit his 59-61st home runs in 1961. Photo research along with John Taube’s input on the LOA confirms Maris used different bats to hit his 60th and 61st home run. Most notably, the pine tar and markings indicate the Hall of Fame bat is the 61st home run bat only. Taube relays, “Period photography of Maris hitting his 60th and 61st home run, though not very detailed, does convey that each home run was struck with a different bat.”
The only way this is not the #60 home run bat is if Maris retrieved a different game bat and gave it to Nizer – with the inscriptions and “60” reference and intended it to be commemorative. Which is possible.
The Nizer’s were always under the impression that this was the one used by Maris to hit his 60th in 1961. Maris’ signature and inscription seems to be straightforward to indicate so. Unfortunately, a photo match does not exist. However there is always a possibility it can be done with further research and clearer photographs that may exist.
Nonetheless, this is an incredible game used bat from one of the most historic years in baseball (1961) and it was used by one of the greatest Yankees of all time Roger Maris. It dates to one of the most famous and exciting chases ever to take place on the diamond. Overall, one of the most significant bats to ever come on the market to date. Includes a full PSA/DNA Bats LOA from John Taube for authentication.