The Hickok belt awarded to Roger Maris as the Professional Athlete of the Year in 1961 was stolen in a brazen early morning burglary in his hometown of Fargo, ND Tuesday.
The belt was part of a display at the Roger Maris Museum inside West Acres Mall. The mall has housed the Maris display for 32 years.
Chris Heaton, the mall’s property manager, told a news conference that an alarm sounded at 2:40 AM.
When mall security arrived in the area of the display, they found a broken pane of glass in the museum case and then a broken exterior door.
Surveillance video shows a man breaking that door, running to the center of the display case and breaking the glass, then grabbing an item and running out the door to a waiting vehicle.
The Hickok belt was presented annually for 27 years. The belts were made of alligator skin and featured an encrusted 4 carat diamond and 26 gem chips. At the time, the belt was valued at $10,000 but today would likely command six figures. A one-of-a-kind item, it would be difficult to sell as is. Ken Stabler’s Hickok belt, the last one awarded before it was retired as a yearly award in 1976, is now at auction.
More coverage, including video of a morning news conference at the mall, is available at ValleyNews.com.
“True to Roger’s wishes, the museum is visible, accessible, and free,” Heaton said. “It speaks to the great amount of respect people have for Roger Maris that this is the first security issue we’ve had in 32 years.”
The Maris family has been notified of the theft.