Maris Takes 25-Game Lead Over Ruth

 

This Week in 1960s Baseball

July 25, 1961) The New York Yankees swept a twi-night doubleheader from the Chicago White Sox by scores of 5-1 and 12-0.

A pair of home runs in both ends of a twi-night doubleheader gave Roger Maris (left) 40 home runs through 95 games of the 1961 season. In 1927, on his way to 60 home runs, Babe Ruth (right) didn’t hit his 40th home run until the team’s 120th game.

Hitting two home runs in each game, Yankees right fielder Roger Maris moved 25 games ahead of Babe Ruth’s 1927 home run pace in his quest to break Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs.

Maris now had a total of 40 home runs after 95 games. In 1927, Ruth didn’t hit his fortieth home run until August 22 in the Yankees’ 120th game.

Ruth would go on a tear in the remaining weeks of the 1927 season, hitting 20 home runs in 34 games. Following a torrid June and July, Maris’ home run pace would slow down, as he hit only 21 home runs in the team’s last 67 games.

But this doubleheader alerted the country that the race to eclipse Ruth’s record was on. And it was real.

As for the games, they were no contest. In the opener, Whitey Ford raised his record to 18-2 with relief help from Luis Arroyo, who notched his twentieth save of the season. It was Ford’s twelfth straight victory.

In the nightcap, right-hander Bill Stafford pitched a six-hit shutout, backed by five Yankees home runs. In addition to Maris’ pair of homers, the Yankees got two home runs from third baseman Clete Boyer and Elston Howard’s tenth home run of the season.

On the day, Maris drove in eight runs to give him 95 RBIs on the season. That put him five ahead of Baltimore’s Jim Gentile in the American League RBI race.

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