One thing is for sure: The Mark McGwire steroid admission has ignited a decades-old debate in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Does Roger Maris – of Fargo – belong in Baseball’s Hall of Fame?
Many arguments can be made for it. For starters, Maris is the single-season home run king in Major League Baseball among players whose careers weren’t swallowed up by the "Steroid Era." Secondly, he won back-to-back MVP awards. And finally, he helped three teams (1961 and ’62 Yankees and the 1967 Cardinals) to World Series titles.
The hardware is there for Maris. No doubt about that.
One columnist in St. Louis says more noise should be made for Maris rather than people uniting against McGwire. That’s also a worthwhile argument.
Personally, I don’t think Maris belongs, at least not moreso than some other players who have been left out. Like Dale Murphy, he’s got back-to-back MVPs, but I’m not sure if his best lasted long enough to fit the typical profile of a Hall of Famer.
We could all argue until we’re blue in the face about whether or not Maris belongs. The numbers can basically be twisted to make the argument either way. Same for Murphy. Same for Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris.
What’s important is that Maris is remembered. So what if he doesn’t get in the Hall of Fame?
McGwire’s admission has unquestionably led to more people admiring what Maris did during his career. McGwire talked about how tough it was to stay on the field. You think? Why are Lou Gehrig‘s and Cal Ripken‘s consecutive games streaks such a big deal? It’s tough to play 162 games, let alone be successful.
Yet in one magical year in 1961, Maris hit more homers than any player that came before him. And that number "61" is probably more than any player that came after him who didn’t have a little bit of help. We may never know for sure on that last part.
But the fact that people are talking about him again and recognizing his accomplishment, that should be the most important thing.