28 July 2014

a black armband for roger maris

roger maris, one of the yankees' famed 'm&m' boys, died in houston on december 14, 1985 at the age of 51 due to cancer.  the yankees added a black armband to their uniforms for the 1986 season in his memory.  thanks to the sheer number of cards produced in 1987, there are lots of examples.  this first one is a 1987 topps glossy send-in card of rickey henderson.
the armband is much more noticeable on that card than it is on rickey's 1987 donruss card
but it's still there.  here's ron guidry's 1987 donruss card 
and don mattingly's 1987 fleer card
both good examples.  topps had some in the flagship, too, like bobby meacham's 1987 topps card
the problem with this particular memorial is that the yankees wore black armbands in 1985 for clubhouse man pete sheehy, so i can't really be sure if these photos are from 1985 or 1986.  i'll assume they are from 1986, but i know for sure that these next two - 1987 topps doug drabek
and 1987 topps mike fischlin
feature photos from 1986 because neither player was with the yankees in 1985.  still, i'd rather use a different card in the collection.  this 1987 topps yankees leader card featuring rickey and mattingly was a front runner
as was this 1986 donruss highlights card of mattingly
in the end, i think it's a higher likelihood that the 1987 topps card features a photo from 1986.  besides, it features the yankee pinstripes.
maris famously hit 61 home runs in 1961, eclipsing babe ruth's record for most in a single season.  he also led the league in runs scored and rbi that year, won his second straight mvp award, and helped the yankees win the world series, too.  he finished his career with the cardinals, including two more trips to the world series in 1967 and 1968.  in addition to the armband memorial following maris' death, the yankees had retired maris' number 9 during the 1984 season with maris in attendance.

maris was born in minnesota, but the family moved to fargo when he was young.  the fargo community still embraces maris as a hero, with many events and other references to him throughout the city.  i can say that i have been to the roger maris museum in the west acres shopping mall.  they will be the first to point out that maris is still the single season american league home run champ, if not the 'legitimate' champ.

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