June 14th, 1958 – Roger Maris’ Last Home Run as an Indian
Every baseball fan knows the name Roger Maris as the first to break Babe Ruth’s mark of 60 home runs in a season. Few know that he began his career with the Indians and developed that prolific power swing in the Tribe’s farm system.
While playing for the Three-I League’s Keokuk Kernals in 1954, manager Jo Jo White taught Maris to pull the ball. This transformed the talented prospect from a contact hitter into the power hitter that is remembered from his days in the MLB.
Maris helped the Indianapolis Indians win a minor-league championship in 1956 and then started the season in Cleveland in 1957. In his two years with the Indians, he slugged 23 home runs (14 in 1957 and 9 in 1958).
On June 14th, the Indians were in Washington to face the Senators (the ones that became the Twins) in Griffith Stadium. Maris was hitting in the leadoff spot. He started the game by taking Senators starter Hal Griggs deep with a solo home run. The Indians manufactured two more runs in the inning and were out to an early 3-0 lead.
They extended that lead in the top of the third via a Preston Ward home run, a wild pitch that scored Mickey Vernon from third, and Maris drawing a walk with the bases loaded.
The Senators got on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the 5th, but could not sustain the rally.
Rocky Colavito lead off the 6th with another home run, and the Indians eventually scored four in the frame.
McLish was fading a bit when he gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the 6th to Neil Chrisley. Herb Score came in to pitch in the bottom of the 7th and recorded a nine-out save. The leadoff home run was Maris’ last as an Indian.
After the game, and under the wire of the June 15th deadline GM Frank “Trader” Lane made one of his signature moves. Lane dealt Preston Ward, pitcher Dick Tomanek, and Maris for Woodie Held and Vic Power. Lane had previously attempted to trade Maris for Yankees second-basemen Bobby Richardson. He was later quoted, ““Before I let the Athletics have him, I made sure they wouldn’t turn around and trade him to the Yankees. They assured me they would keep him themselves.”
After the 1958 season, the A’s did indeed send Maris to the Yankees and eventually into the record books.