Today is the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris, the longtime MLB single-season home run record holder, being traded from the New York Yankees to the St. Louis Cardinals.
It was a deal that ended up being hugely beneficial in St. Louis as Maris turned out to be a key part of a Cardinals team that won back-to-back pennants and the 1967 World Series.
But, according to St. Louis broadcaster Mike Shannon, the Yankees had no intention of being the Cardinals’ generous benefactors.
Shannon, who became Maris’ best friend with the Redbirds after the trade, has told a much different tale about how things went down.
According to Shannon, Maris told the Yankees at the end of the 1966 season that he planned to retire. He struggled through injuries in the 1965 and ’66 campaigns that sapped his power and pushed his batting average into the .230s. Maris thought it was time to call it a career.
The Yankees allegedly told their slugging right fielder that he shouldn’t say anything about his retirement plans so they could make a big announcement as the 1967 season began to crank up. They’d have Roger Maris Day at the House That Ruth Built and everything.
Maris reluctantly ageeed, playing the part of a loyal teammate — and the Yankees traded the retiring player to the Cardinals before the word got out.
Maris’ power was gone. But, after deciding to play for the Cardinals because he felt obligated by the trade, became a team leader that put St. Louis over the top in 1967.