Retirement ring, Hrbek bat highlights of Maris auction
Monday, June 27, 2016
Posted by: Administration
FARGO—Susan Maris, daughter of Yankees legend and Fargo son Roger Maris, was reunited with a piece of her father's legacy during the 33rd annual Roger Maris Celebrity Golf Tournament auction Sunday, June 26, at the Ramada Plaza and Suites here.
She was the highest bidder for a rare Roger Maris retirement ring, donated by Roger's biggest fan and family friend Andy Strasberg.
"Until tonight I didn't even know the ring existed. It means a lot to me because of the connection my family and I have with Andy," Susan Maris said after bidding $2,200 on the ring. "It brings back memories that are so special because St. Louis brings back fonder times because I was old enough to know what really was going on. Andy means a lot to our family and to the charity."
The connection between the Marises and Strasberg dates back to 1968, when Roger Maris played his final game in St. Louis, with both the Maris family and Strasberg in attendance.
Strasberg has been traveling from San Diego to the tournament since 1986
"As a kid growing up idolizing Roger Maris to be able to come to Fargo and see his family and friends it's hard for me to put into words," Strasberg said. "Imagine 55 years after I chose Roger Maris as being my favorite player and I am still involved with the family after all of these years, it means a lot."
Sunday's auction was separated into two events, a smaller live auction with about 10 items and a silent auction filled with over 150 items related to Maris, Minnesota sports teams and area sports culture.
"We have a lot of great stuff this year," said Mark Walker, chairperson of the Roger Maris tournament. "We'd always like to get around $10,000 to $12,000 from the auction."
Auction assistant Mark Walker displays a golf club from a Nike golf club set and bag auction item. Matt Hellman / The Forum
All of the money raised from the auctions and golf tournament goes directly to the Hospice of Red River Valley, Shanley High School and the Roger Maris Cancer Center.
Renee Gravalin, a member of the Roger Maris auction committee for the past eights years and board member for two, acknowledged how exciting it is for the event to be still going.
"It's pretty rare for a charity tournament to go for 33 years," Gravalin said. "Many of them after five to eight years run their course."
Gravalin said the key to the event's longevity is the continuous memorabilia donations from the tournament's advocates.
"It's donated from all over, our larger supporters always come through with stuff for the event," Gravalin said. "The Minnesota teams like the Vikings, Wild and Twins have always been supportive in bringing stuff in."
This year, one of the most sought after items in the silent auction was a Kent Hrbek autographed baseball bat, but Gravalin noted anything with Roger Maris goes high.
"Anything with Roger's signature on it does well," she said. "The Kent Hrbek bat just keeps going up and up."
Some other notable items from the silent auction included a Roger Maris 61 in '61 logoed golf bag, a Minnesota Vikings' Anthony Barr signed football and a Bert Blyleven autographed baseball.
The live auction memorabilia included a Minnesota Wild Zach Parise autographed hockey stick, a Carson Wentz signed football and a seat from the Twins' old stadium the Metrodome.
Auction totals were not available Sunday.
A few years back Pat Maris, Roger's widow, came up with another name to call the auction that hits home with Strasberg—the "Celebration of Friendship Social and Auction."
"The friendships I have developed through the years is really special to me," he said. "I look forward to coming to this event every single year. I absolutely love the people, they're warm, they're genuine and straight-forward. Just like Roger Maris."
The golf tournament continues Monday, June 27.