Maris/Mantle ’61 tribute moved to Saturday

The Yankees postponed due to uncertain weather conditions Friday night their pregame ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris setting the major league record of 61 home runs in a season that stood for 37 seasons, even longer than Babe Ruth’s 34-year-old mark that Maris broke in 1961.

The event has been rescheduled for Saturday. Fans attending the Yankees-Red Sox 4:05 p.m. game at Yankee Stadium should try to be in their seats by 3:20 p.m. to be in position to view the special ceremony beginning at 3:35 p.m.

Joining the Yankees for the celebration will be the families of Maris and Mickey Mantle, his teammate who finished that season with 54 homers. Family members attending will be Roger’s widow, Pat, daughters Susan and Sandra and sons Roger Jr., Kevin, Randy and Richard as well as Mickey’s sons, David and Danny.

The master of ceremonies will be actor-comedian Billy Crystal, who directed the 2001 HBO movie 61*, which depicted Maris’ and Mantle’s pursuit of the home run record half a century ago. Also expected to be on hand are former teammates Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Bob Cerv, Moose Skowron and Bobby Richardson, plus former Yankees bat boy Frank Prudenti and Sal Durante, the Brooklyn bus driver who caught the 61st home run in the right field stands Oct. 1, 1961 on the last day of the regular season.

That ball as well as the bat that Roger used for the historic blow will be on view during the ceremony on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame. After a video tribute, the Yankees Foundation will present a donation to the Roger Maris Cancer Center in his home town of Fargo, N.D.

Cheryl Howard, the daughter of another Yankees teammate, All-Star catcher Elston Howard, will sing the national anthem. A group of honorees is scheduled to arrive at the Stadium at 12:45 p.m. at Gate 4 where they will officially unveil the Gray Line New York Ride of Fame bus honoring Roger. They will then go on a private tour of the Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America, before heading to Monument Park.

Just the other day, I was interviewed by a young writer from the newspaper in Fargo, and I told him that it is my belief that what Roger accomplished 50 years ago is more revered today than it was then. Friday night’s ceremony will be a chance to relive one of the greatest moments in the history of a franchise that has had more of them than any team in professional sports.

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