BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota Senate unanimously approved a resolution Thursday asking baseball commissioner Bud Selig to reinstate Roger Maris’ 61 home runs in 1961 as the major league record.
Maris’ mark has been surpassed six times since 1998, but baseball’s steroids scandal has called the recent records into question.
“In North Dakota when we think something has been wrong, we try to make it right,” said Sen. Joel Heitkamp, a Democrat who sponsored the resolution. “And when it comes to Roger Maris, and when it comes to steroids, and when it comes to how people have taken this record away ... that’s not right.”
Maris grew up in Fargo, where he was a high school star in baseball and football.
State senators approved the measure 45-0. It now moves to the North Dakota House for additional review.
Mark McGwire broke Maris’ record by hitting 70 home runs in 1998, when Sammy Sosa hit 66. In 2001, Barry Bonds broke McGwire’s record with 73 home runs.
The resolution is being debated as Congress explores allegations of steroid use in baseball, spurred in part by Jose Canseco’s book, which alleges the muscle-building drugs were used by several players in the late 1980s and ’90s.
Sosa denied using steroids, while McGwire declined to answer questions about whether he had done so. McGwire and Canseco were teammates with the Oakland Athletics, and Canseco said he witnessed McGwire using steroids, an assertion McGwire has denied.
Bonds has denied knowingly using steroids.
Sen. Heitkamp said he has gotten several messages wondering why the North Dakota Legislature was wasting its time on baseball. However, he felt obliged to speak out because he believes Maris’ record was eclipsed by cheating.
Baseball's steroid scandal