Roger Maris’ $5,000 advice to Sal Durante, who caught his 61st homer

Sal Durante was 19 years outdated in 1961 when he caught Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st house run ball, and it was an expertise he cherished for 60 years.

Durante was with his girlfriend, Rosemarie, who would develop into his spouse, on a double date in the best subject bleachers for Yankees-Red Sox — and he or she paid for the tickets.

“I used to be broke on the time, and Rosemarie loaned me $10 so I might purchase 4 tickets at $2.50 every,” Durante defined to the Seattle Times in 2016. “Rosemarie by no means let me overlook the mortgage.”

With Aaron Judge trying sure to go Maris’ mark — which many baseball followers and media think about to be the true single-season house run report, given the PED utilization through which Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds had been implicated — the magical 1961 season is getting revisited from each angle.

“I heard the crack of the bat and noticed it headed in the direction of the right-field bleachers the place we had been sitting,” Durante mentioned in 2016. “I jumped up on my seat and stretched as excessive as I might, and the ball slammed into the palm of my naked hand.”

Sal Durante holds up Roger Maris’ 61st house run ball on the fiftieth anniversary in 2011.
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Red Barber, calling the sport on WPIX, implied that the fortunate fan who caught the ball would obtain $5,000.

Durante was comfortable to return the ball and obtain nothing however a “thanks” from Maris in return. Instead, he recalled Maris telling him, “Keep it, child. Put it up for public sale. Somebody pays you some huge cash for the ball. He’ll maintain it for a few days after which give it to me.”

That someone was California restaurateur Sam Gordon, who did simply that.

Sal Durante and Roger Maris in 1961.
Sal Durante and Roger Maris in 1961.
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According to the CPI calculator, which measures the tides of inflation, the $5,000 Durante acquired in 1961 is the equal of practically $50,000 at the moment. It’s onerous fathom what the ball would fetch in an public sale at the moment.

Durante was a Brooklyn-based truck driver on the time he caught the ball; he would later drive a faculty bus for 30 years till his retirement on the age of 62. About 20 years in the past, Sal and Rosemarie moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island.

Rosemarie handed about eight years in the past. As of the previous a number of months, Durante, now 80, is hospitalized and affected by dementia, his son, Tom, a 58-year-old New York City actual property dealer, knowledgeable The Post.

Sal Durante received $5,000 for Roger Maris' 61st home run ball.
Sal Durante acquired $5,000 for Roger Maris’ 61st house run ball.
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“He nonetheless had — and nonetheless has — all his footage of him and Maris by means of the home. He would speak about it,” the son mentioned. “If we requested questions on it till lately, he would have recognized the solutions. About one-and-a-half months in the past, his thoughts fully shut off.”

The memorabilia Durante held onto included a ticket stub signed by Maris from that day, Maris’ personal Zippo lighter that the 2 each used to gentle cigarettes within the locker room and a ball signed by Maris, Durante and Tracy Stallard, the Red Sox pitcher who gave up the house run.

“He had a pleasant run with this,” Tom Durante, the son, mentioned. “In 1976, once they opened up the new-old Yankee Stadium, he threw out the primary ball to Graig Nettles. Then on the twenty fifth anniversary, they invited him up there with my mother. Then on the fiftieth anniversary he introduced out the ball — that’s now within the Hall of Fame — to the Maris household.”

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