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The Bat, Not the Ball: Maris Explains His Home-Run Total

Jan. 7, 1962 - A better bat, not a livelier ball, helped Roger Maris to his record total of 61 home runs last year. The 27-year-old Yankee outfielder expressed this belief today while attending the Sporting Goods Fair at the Hotel New Yorker. “The bats we use nowadays are comparatively light, with slender handles. You can ‘whip’ them with greater facility and speed. Last year, I met a fellow who had one of the bats used by Ruth, when he was blasting home runs out of American League parks. I took some swings with it. Boy, compared to our present-day bats, this one, surely more than 40 ounces, was like swinging a 4-by-4 piece of timber at an aspirin tablet. Last year with the Yankees, I used a 33-ounce bat.” The tensions and pressures that come with fame bother Maris. He is a sensitive young man, and upset by some of the writings of “old-timers who think any modern ballplayer who even aspires to equal or better the records made 30 or 40 years ago is a bum.” At the moment, Maris has an idea that as soon as he has established financial security for himself and his family, he will, “by a snap decision,” quit the game.

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