Giancarlo Stanton is a young man after my own heart.
The Miami Marlins baseball star has declared that Roger Maris’s 61 home runs during the 1961 season is the legitimate single-season record. Why would the Marlins’ slugger say that? It’s likely because he stands a chance of hitting more than what Maris hit during his epic home run battle with New York Yankees teammate Mickey Mantle.
Maris’s total no longer is the major-league record — officially. The record actually belongs to Barry Bonds, who hit 73 during the height of the Steroid Era in Major League Baseball. Indeed, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa also hit more home runs in a single season than Maris, but they, too, were juiced up with performance-enhancing drugs.
“When you grow up watching all the old films of Babe Ruth and [Mickey] Mantle and those guys, 61 has always been that printed number as a kid,” Stanton said.
I am one baseball fan who has serious trouble accepting Bonds as the home run king, either for a single season or a career. I continue to consider Henry Aaron to be the all-time HR monarch, as he hit 755 dingers during his storied career. He did so without the chemical help that Bonds — who hit 762 home runs during his career — received along the way.
Maris surpassed Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs — which The Babe set in 1927 — while battling Mickey Mantle during the entire 1961 season. They were neck and neck all season long. Then Mantle went down with an injury late in the season — and became his buddy Roger’s greatest cheerleader as Maris continued his chase for baseball immortality.
That’s the record worth chasing now. To that end, I am pulling for Giancarlo Stanton to surpass it.