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Countdown To Pitchers And Catchers: #32 Roger Maris

| On 19, Jan 2012

Today continues our countdown to the start of Indians pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear, Arizona on February 20. We’ll count down the days, profiling a former Indian who wore the corresponding number. Some players will be memorable, others just our favorites and some, the only one we could find who wore that number. Today, we remember the short Indian stint of young, Roger Maris.

By Craig Gifford

In Cleveland, one well-known phrase is, “The Curse of Colavito.” It’s generally thought that when the Tribe traded Colavito to Detroit after the 1959 season, it would prevent them from winning another championship. The trade of the player who had four great seasons with the Indians has been followed by zero championships for the Indians to this point.

Of course, that was just one of two major trades the Indians made that you could call curse-like. Only a year before, the Indians traded away the man who would go on to have one the single-greatest seasons of all-time. Roger Maris, who hit a then-record 61 home runs in 1961 for the New York Yankees, wore number 32 for the Tribe in 1957 and 1958.

He had a modest start to his career hitting nine  home runs in his rookie year with the Indians. Cleveland traded him in June 1958, to the Kansas City Athletics.  At the half-way point of the year, he had 14 long balls. It was not a very popular trade. He would go on to hit a total of 28 homers that season.

After a 19 home run 1959 season, Kansas City shipped Maris off to the Yankees, where his power and legend really blossomed. As a precursor to the ’61 campaign, Maris drove 39 bombs in 1960. He then had the great year of 1961. The power seemingly came out of no where as he never had another season with even 40 jacks. He had plenty of home run potential the next three years, with home run totals of 33, 23 and 26. However, the numbers waned off from there.

Despite holding one of baseball’s most prestigious records for 37 years, Maris never could put together enough great seasons to reach the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. He finished with 275 home runs and 1,325 hits. Nice numbers, but not great.

Still, Maris will always be remembered for his 1961 season and Cleveland will always be remembered for sending him away just three years before he would go down in history.

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