October 1, 1961 was a seasonably warm day at Yankee Stadium, with the temperature in the upper 60s. Some of the crowd was in shirt sleeves. Some businessmen, as usual, were more formally dressed in suits and sportcoats. Remarkably, the place was less than half full.
All would witness history.
In the fourth inning of what was the Yankees’ final game of the season, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s 34-year-old single-season record.
A unique view on one of the most famous home runs in baseball history is up for sale this month. RMY Auctions has acquired a rare, low-angle photograph of the moment Maris belted Tracy Stallard’s pitch over the right field fence for his 61st home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s decades-old record. The photographer, it seems, was stationed just to the right of where Maris’ blast would be caught by Sal Durante, a 19-year-old from Coney Island who was paid $5,000 by a New York restaurant owner in exchange for the ball.
The 8×10 image originated with the New York Daily News is one of more than 400 photos up for bid in RMY’s monthly auction.
A hand-written notation, likely by a newspaper photo archivist or editor, is on the back (photo is incorrectly dated October 2).
The auction also includes a posed photo of Maris and Mickey Mantle during the home run chase that year as well as shots of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other stars of the past.
Maris’ bat—and the one used by Ruth to hit his 60th in 1927—are on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The auction runs through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.