Sunday, April 26, 2015

The M&M Boys Start Their Epic Home Run Race April 26, 1961

On This Day in Baseball History April 26, 1961: On a frigid Detroit Wednesday, a sparse crowd of 4,676 fans braved the elements at Tiger Stadium to see the epic 1961 home-run race take its first steps.

Roger Maris coming off his 1960 American League MVP season, hits his first of sixty-one homers off of off Paul Foytack in the fifth inning. We all know how the race ends with Maris out slugging Mantle 61 to 54 to break Babe Ruth's single season homerun record, but on this day, Mantle holds the distinct lead in the homerun race. Mantle bangs out his seventh and eighth homeruns for the season. His 7th dinger came off of Jim Donohue in the eighth inning and his 8th came off of Hank Aguirre to take the lead for the Yankees in the 10th. Mantle hit a homerun from either side of the plate for the eighth time in his career.

The 1961 season, as immortalized in the 2001 HBO movie 61* by Billy Crystal would be one of the most exciting seasons on record with many Baseball fans rooting for the favored Mantle to break the record while the shy and often times reclusive Maris wanting to avoid all the hoopla and just wanting to go out and do his job.

The race would be redone in 1998 when both Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs chased Roger Maris' 61 homerun season. With the power numbers being reduced in recent years, will we ever see another single season homerun race?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
Yanks Set Back Tigers in Tenth on Mantle's Second 2-Run Homer by John Drebinger from the New York Times dated April 27, 1961
- The boxscore for the Wednesday, April 26, 1961 game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium from Baseball Reference