It was Sunday, October 1, 1961 at Yankee Stadium in New York, the fourth inning of the last game of the season. The clock on the scoreboard read 2:42 when Roger Maris came to bat for the second time in the game. There was no score, one out and no one on base. Pitching for the Boston Red Sox was Tracy Stallard, a tall 24-year-old right-hander with a 2-6 record. The first time up, Maris had hit Stallard's first pitch, a good sinker, deep to left field, but the ball had been caught.
Now Stallard threw a fast ball high and outside that Maris took for a ball. From all over the Stadium, but especially from the packed right-field stands, Maris' home run territory, came the low rumble of boos. Stallard threw another fast ball, this time low and inside, and again there were boos. Stallard's third pitch was a third fast ball—"a strike," he said later, "knee-high on the outside corner of the plate." Maris swung, and from the instant of impact there was no doubt in the mind of anyone (including two Cincinnati pitchers in a front-row box) that he had just hit his 61st home run of the season, more than any other player in the history of the game. The ball rose toward the right-field stands, just to the right of the Yankee bullpen some 360 feet from home plate, and fell about six rows deep into a wild confusion of grappling fans. It was caught on the fly by a 19-year-old Brooklyn boy named Sal Durante who was immediately escorted with his precious souvenir—a California restaurant man had offered $5,000 for the ball—to the Yankee dressing room.
Maris circled the bases slowly to a standing ovation from the crowd of 23,000. Yogi Berra, waiting to hit, was the first to shake his hand, followed by the Yankee bat boy and a jubilant fan. Maris disappeared into the dugout, but when the applause continued he reappeared on the dugout steps, his hat in his hand, a delighted smile on his face. When he tried to sit down once more his teammates refused to let him, pushing him back into view. Again he waved his cap at the crowd. At that moment the Yankee management flashed a message on the scoreboard: MARIS 61 HOMERS BREAK RUTH'S 1927 RECORD FOR A SEASON.
There was little new for Maris to say to the mob of reporters who surrounded him after the game. "I'm happy...good feeling...the greatest," were the expectable answers to the expectable questions. In the Boston clubhouse Stallard, who had lost the game to the home run, 1-0, was far from despondent. "I'll tell you this," he said. "My price just went up on the banquet circuit."
THE B.G MOMENT: MARIS HITS NO. 61 AS CINCY'S JOEY JAY, DARRELL JOHNSON AND JIM O'TOOLE WATCH FROM FRONT ROW BOX
SAL DURANTE HOLDS HOME RUN BALL OVERHEAD (ARROW) AFTER MAKING CATCH, WHILE FANS BEHIND HIM CONTINUE SEARCH