FERGUS FALLS -- Deb Forstner of Fergus Falls says she feels blessed to say that her family and the Roger Maris family are friends.
Fargo native Maris played for the New York Yankees, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1961. He played in seven World Series, five with the Yankees and two with the St. Louis Cardinals. Maris was the American League MVP in 1960 and 1961 and was a gold glove awardee as an outfielder.
A few residents of Otter Tail County remember playing in or watching baseball games in which Roger Maris played for the Fargo American Legion Post 2 baseball team. His team won the North Dakota state tournament in 1950. Maris was named tournament MVP.
“My mom graduated in the same class as Roger’s wife, Pat Maris, from Shanley High School in Fargo,” Forstner said. “They continue to talk frequently by phone.”
Forstner has distinct memories of Roger Maris being in her family's Moorhead home in the 1960s. She is the same age as Susan Maris, oldest of the six children raised by Roger and Pat Maris.
“Roger attended some of my parents’ social gatherings when he was back home, and he graciously signed baseballs for all of us,” Forstner said. “Those baseballs landed in our toy box for play, and the signatures wore off. Aargh!”
Forstner remembers when her family once took a trip to Kansas City in the late 1960s to visit the Maris family. That’s when Roger played for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Susan Maris, when interviewed by a national sports journalist, said her late father was a good baseball player but was even better as a father.
“I have so many special memories of the Maris family,” Forstner said.
More about Roger Maris
Fargo native Roger Maris also starred in football and baseball for Fargo Shanley High School.
Maris played for the Fargo-Moorhead Twins in the old Northern League and advanced to the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians in 1957. He then played for Kansas City before being traded to the New York Yankees, ending his career with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Maris made seven all-star game appearances during his 12-year major league career. He was a great base runner in addition to being an outstanding hitter and outfielder.
He retired with his family to Florida in the late 1960s.
Maris died of cancer at 51 in December 1985. His funeral was held in Fargo and he is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in north Fargo.
Much of his memorabilia is housed at the Roger Maris Baseball Museum at West Acres Mall in Fargo. An annual golf tournament in his honor raises money for Shanley High School and the Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo.