Maris grandson to spend college years in Fargo
FARGO - West Acres Mall has a little more meaning to Richie Maris than it does to the average North Dakota State student. Most kids check out the latest fashion trends.
Maris checks out the Roger Maris Museum.
It's his grandfather, after all, for whom the museum is named. Of all the memorabilia in the large glass-enclosed museum case, the black and white video of the 1961 season is a necessity for him to watch.
"I learn something different every time," he said.
Stories. That's all Richie has to go on when it comes to Roger. He was born six years after the Fargo great died in 1985. But in his brief time in Fargo, Richie has learned enough to know that Maris is a legend around here.
He's been to most of the Roger Maris Celebrity Golf tournaments. The son of Richard Maris, how Richie got to Fargo was the result of a pairing with North Dakota State head men's basketball coach Saul Phillips at this summer's Maris tourney.
It was on the fourth hole at Rose Creek golf course when Phillips asked Richie if he would consider coming to school at NDSU.
"I was already thinking of it anyway," Richie said.
He asked Phillips if there was any job opening in his program, which there was, for a student manager. Phillips said he liked the maturity and responsibility Richie showed.
"The sports romantic in me thinks it's pretty cool with the tie to Roger," Phillips said. "But the bottom line is if the kid didn't present himself like he did, it wouldn't have been an option."
Richie said it all just made sense to him, so he and his father flew back to Fargo in July to visit the campus. It practically blew the kid away.
"Here I've been here for 15 years with the tournament, but I never was on campus," he said. "It's unbelievable. I love it so far."
He wasn't the only Maris grandson to visit campus. His cousin, Grant Maris, visited NDSU this weekend as a football prospect from St. Francis Catholic High School in Gainesville, Fla., the same high school Richie attended.
Grant Maris is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound linebacker-running back. Last season as a junior, he averaged 6.9 yards per carry and had 82 tackles, 32 for lost yardage. He is the son of Randy Maris.
After he dropped his father off at the airport, Richie said he went down to Lindenwood Park and walked around Roger Maris Drive. He's seen the big billboards around town and the sculpture of Roger Maris on the side of Scheels All-Sports is impressive.
He would like to talk with somebody who went to high school with Roger. He's searched the internet for old video clips.
Of what he's seen, he marvels at the smooth and powerful swing of Roger, despite his grandfather being 6-foot and 197 pounds.
"Just a natural swing," Richie said.
And still a big name in Fargo. To Richie, his grandfather was his father's father that he never met.
"And then I see people wearing his jersey on campus," he said. "It makes you think differently of him."
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia