The Roger Maris Museum in North Dakota

In August I had a long weekend to do some traveling, and was eager to complete my goal of visiting all of the lower 48 states before I turned 30. Though it would require a bit of driving, I planned out a trip that would allow me to leave Iowa and then visit North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. That would be three more states to check off my list. The highway from Des Moines, Iowa would take me directly to Minneapolis (I’d been to Minnesota before) and I’d grab dinner. I had heard Minneapolis was known for a “Juicy Lucy” which is a cheeseburger with the cheese placed inside of the burger as opposed to on top of the burger. I got one, (it was pretty good) and then made the three and a half hour drive northwest to Fargo where I’d stay the night.

Screen shot 2013-12-28 at 11.58.54 AM

See how flat your computer screen is? The eastern part of North Dakota is a bit flatter

Since I only had limited time to visit three states, Fargo was the perfect spot to end for the night and take off the next morning. The 94 highway would take me straight across the state. I used my choice hotels points for my lodging and ended up paying exactly zero dollars for my room.

I’d learned that Fargo had a museum dedicated to baseball Roger Maris, who’d set the mark for home runs in a single season in 1960 and decided to see it the next morning. Maris had played for a few different teams but was most famous for playing for the New York Yankees. The museum was actually located in a mall, the West Acres Shopping Center. Apparently when the idea was brought to Maris, he insisted that any type of museum or “tribute” be placed where the average, everyday person could view it, and without being hassled for a costly ticket. So they chose a mall. I thought that was pretty great of Maris.

It’s hard to imagine a shopping mall doing justice to any historical figure, so I came in with expectations pretty low. “They’ll probably have a few pictures, a case of some jerseys and maybe anecdotes and facts written on the wall. It’ll probably only take me 5 or 10 minutes to see everything.” Boy was I wrong…

Panels of memorabilia and game used items

Panels of memorabilia and game used items

The Roger Maris Museum in Fargo was truly a well put together and tremendously professional display. It was much grander than I expected and was absolutely worth the trip over there. Keep in mind I am a baseball fan, and also a New York Yankees fan. But I was thoroughly impressed. There was an entire, (and very long) wall of the corner of the mall just devoted to the Maris museum. It included a timeline of events, a ton of pictures and magazine covers, and lots of original memorabilia. It also covered a great deal of Maris’ life including the history behind the museum and his charity golf outing.

Actual stadium seats in a video viewing room

Actual stadium seats in a video viewing room

I walked away tremendously impressed… But then I realized there was even more. An opening in the wall led into a video screening room, decorated with even more items from Maris’ career. A large video screen played a documentary about Maris covering his life and career. The room even had about a dozen bleacher seats, directly taken from Yankee stadium in the 1960’s. The documentary, narrated by Yankees announcer John Sterling, was quite in depth. I lost track of time, but it was easily between 45 minutes and an hour.  It was extremely well put together and covered a ton of things I’d never known. Again, being a fan of baseball and sports, I enjoyed every bit of it.

Roger Maris

Some of the actual home runs hit by Maris in 1960

The museum has a great display of the home runs Maris hit leading up to #61. About a half dozen are here with one in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and one held by a private collector.

I had definitely done something memorable for my visit to North Dakota but I still had more to see. I jumped on I-94, headed west, and was on my way to Montana.

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