61 in 61
May 21, 2011

The last time I talked to Roger Maris was about two months before he died. It was one of his good days when the pain wasnít so bad and he was able to talk with an old friend for about ninety minutes.

For awhile, we asked about each otherís families and some friends we had in common, but it wasnít long before our conversations turned back to the 1961 Yankees. Thatís how it usually went with usÖ.

Itís kind of crazy the things you end up remembering and talking about after twenty-five years. Itís also strange that Rogerís one home run I remember was not his sixty-first, but his fifty-eighth.

We were playing Detroit, and I was on second base. Roger was at the plate and he stepped out of the batterís box. He seemed to be staring at the upper deck in right field. I looked out there, but I didnít see anything. Suddenly a flock of about 250 Canadian geese appeared on the horizon, flying right over the right field roof in Tiger Stadium.

Roger took off his cap, wiped his brow, and just watched the geese. I knew it couldnít have been more than a minute, but it seemed like about ten before he put his cap back on and got into the batterís box. Nester Chylak was the umpire, and I could see he was getting a little nervous because Roger was holding up the game, but Chylak let Roger stand there looking at the geese.

Terry Fox was the Detroit pitcher, and he wasnít thrilled with the delay. He stood on the mound, rubbing up the ball and wondering what Roger was doing. But like Chylak, Terry never said a word. The game just stopped because Roger Maris wanted to watch some geese.
Finally Roger was ready to hit. Fox threw him a pitch that was about a foot outside and six inches off the ground. I could see it perfectly from second base. Roger went out and got it, pulling a four-hundred-foot homer into the upper deck in right, just under where the geese had flown.

I mentioned this to Roger, and he said, ďTony, I can still see those geese. Watching them was so peacefulĒ

---from Tony Kubekís book Sixty One ĖThe Team, The Record, The Men.

 September 18th 1961 - Tiger Stadium - #58

Roger Maris' 61st Home Run in 1961