Sultan of Swat award crown.
Sultan of Swat award crown.

Roger Maris Museum

Field review by the editors.

Fargo, North Dakota

Roger Maris was an outfielder for the New York Yankees. In 1961 he became "Baseball's Single-Season Home Run King," the only player in the major leagues to that time to ever hit 61 home runs in a season -- one more than Babe Ruth, who hit 60 in 1927. This would seem to be a worthy and clear-cut claim to fame, except that Ruth hit his 60 in a 154-game season, while Maris hit his 61 in a 162-game season. And Babe Ruth went on to hit more home runs, a lot more. Roger did not. His power stroke vanished, he was traded to St. Louis, and six years after his record-setting season he was out of baseball.

Fargo loved Roger nonetheless. In 1984 a delegation from its American Legion asked the Single-Season Home Run King if he would agree to donate his memorabilia to a local museum. Roger agreed, but -- perhaps familiar with the hundreds of obscure pioneer heritage museums that dot North Dakota -- he demanded that his museum be where a large number of people could see it. The American Legion put their heads together and came up with a practical (some might even say brilliant) idea. They put Roger's museum in a mall.

Roger Maris Museum in a mall.
Roger Maris Museum in a mall.

The West Acres World Shopping Center is the biggest in Fargo and the largest, according to its promotional literature, between Minneapolis and the Pacific Ocean. The Roger Maris Museum has a perpetual lease in it, with displays that strive to show Roger as something more than the Single-Season Home Run King. One exhibit notes that he was "a complete athlete" and calls attention to his 39 homers and Gold Glove award in 1960. His "Sultan of Swat" award crowns from 1960 and 1961 are highlights, as are his 60th (but not his 61st) home run baseball and his picture on the Wheaties 60th (but not its 61st) anniversary box. Despite its efforts, the museum's abundance of awards from 1961 only makes the absence of those from other years more apparent.

Pocket video theater with ballpark seating.
Pocket video theater with ballpark seating.

Perhaps befitting a celebrity whose fame is based on a loosely-defined term, the Roger Maris Museum is not really a museum. It's an oversized high school trophy case, 72 feet long and two feet deep, pressed against a wall (along with a pocket video theater with some authentic ballpark seats.

In July 2016 someone broke into the displays and stole one of Roger's trophy belts and his 1960 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Maris died of cancer less than 18 months after the museum opened, and was buried only a couple of miles away. He was 51.

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Roger Maris Museum

West Acres Mall

Address:
3902 13th Ave. South, Fargo, ND
Directions:
West side of town, just west of I-29 exit 64, in the West Acres Mall.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

RoadsideAmerica.com Team Field Report

Roger Maris's Grave

Holy Cross Cemetery

Address:
1502 32nd Ave. N, Fargo, ND
Directions:
Take Broadway north to the edge of town, then turn left onto 32nd Ave. North. At the far end, in Holy Cross Cemetery, adjacent to Hector Airport's runway. The tombstone resembles a large black baseball diamond.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Space Aliens Grill & BarSpace Aliens Grill & Bar, Fargo, ND - < 1 mi.
Fargo Walk of FameFargo Walk of Fame, Fargo, ND - < 1 mi.
Woodchipper from the Movie FargoWoodchipper from the Movie Fargo, Fargo, ND - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Large Toothbrush, West Fargo, ND - 2 mi.

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