|Thursday, February 27
Maris earned 18 of a possible 81 votes for Hall
FARGO, N.D. -- Roger Maris' chance to be in the baseball Hall of Fame has likely come to an end, one of the late slugger's friends says.
Totals released Wednesday by a redesigned Veterans Committee showed all 41 men on the ballot fell short of the necessary 75 percent vote total needed to be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Maris, the Fargo Shanley graduate who broke Babe Ruth's single-season record with 61 home runs in 1961, was one of the players listed on the committee's ballot.
"I thought with the reconfigured committee that this would be (Maris' last chance). I figured if he didn't make it this time, it just isn't going to happen. It's unfortunate,'' said Fargo's Dick Savageau, a high school classmate and lifelong friend of Maris.
Supporters of Maris held out hope that the new makeup of the Veterans Committee, which was expanded to include all living Hall of Fame players, would favor the former right-fielder for the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.
But Maris garnered just 18 of a possible 81 votes, or 22.2 percent. To be elected, a person must be listed on at least three-quarters (61) of the ballots.
"It's too bad. I don't understand it,'' Savageau said. "He was a tremendous athlete, a tremendous baseball player. It's rather disappointing. He did more than just hit 61 home runs. He did a lot of things.''
Former Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman and New York Mets manager Gil Hodges came closest to election, getting 50 votes. Former Minnesota Twins outfielder and designated hitter Tony Oliva received 48 and ex-Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo got 46.
On the composite ballot, which included former managers, executives and umpires, former umpire Doug Harvey received 48 votes.
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks broadcaster Maury Wills got 24 votes.
The new panel included 85 eligible members: the 58 living Hall of Fame players (newly elected Gary Carter and Eddie Murray don't get to vote yet), 25 Hall writers and broadcasters and two members from the former Veterans Committee whose terms had not expired.
Eighty-one of the 85 eligible voters returned ballots.
Under the old system, the Veterans Committee met each year. With the new system, the committee will pick players every two years and will consider managers, executives and umpires every four years.
Maris played 12 seasons in the major leagues, collecting 275 home runs and 1,325 hits. He was the American League's Most Valuable Player with the Yankees in 1960 and '61. He retired in 1968.
The closest Maris came to election on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot was in 1982, when he received 43 percent of the vote. He never reached the final ballot of the old Veterans Committee.