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Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle Lose 1961 RBI, Runs Scored Titles

Jul 27, 2010 – 5:49 PM
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Hal Spivack

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It took 49 years, but consequential changes are being made to batting statistics of Yankees' legends Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. These corrections affect the 1961 AL RBI and 1961 AL and MLB runs scored champions.

Sean Forman of baseball-reference.com reprinted a note on his website written by Lyle Spatz, chair of the Society For American Baseball Research records committee. In the note, Spatz details that Roger Maris was mistakenly given an extra RBI in a 1961 game. It also details that Mantle was given an extra run scored in the same year.

These statistics are significant because they change the AL and MLB leaders for the year.

Maris was originally credited with 142 RBI in 1961, one more than Baltimore's Jim Gentile. Rocky Colavito was just behind them with 140.



Researcher Ron Rakowski initially discovered the discrepancies, noticing that a scoring error was made during a July 5 game between New York and Cleveland at Yankee Stadium. Maris hit a single and on the play a throwing error was made after Maris rounded the base, consequently sending Tony Kubek around to score with Maris ending up at third.

Because it was an unearned run due to the throwing error, Maris should not have been credited with the RBI. Maris later hit a solo home run in the game, but the scorer incorrectly reported two RBIs to Major League Baseball's office instead of one. The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Journal American, Cleveland Plain Dealer and the The Sporting News all show Maris with just one RBI. The recognized discovery is imperative as it now has Maris sharing the 1961 AL RBI lead with Gentile, both players driving in 141 for the season.

On the other hand, Rakowski also discovered that Mickey Mantle's run total was scored incorrectly in another game during 1961. In the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 10 against Cleveland, Mantle was given an extra run. Rakowski confirmed this error by juxtaposing score sheets of New York sports writers and media outlets and the Yankees' official statistics. This corrected error now gives Mantle one less run, placing him at 131 runs scored for 1961. This crowns Maris the AL leader and MLB leader in runs scored with 132, overtaking Mantle.

As a side note, 1961 was the year Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, setting a then MLB record by passing Babe Ruth by one, and also setting the AL home run record that still stands in 2010.

According to Spatz's statement, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball Almanac and the Elias Sports Bureau have all recognized these corrected numbers.

The changes come as a result of dedicated research by the SABR teaming up with Retrosheet, in an attempt to ensure statistics from the pre-1984 era are as accurate as possible.
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