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61* is an endearing ode to the baseball days of yore when the press was the enemy, salaries were in check, and breaking records with bat and glove took on Ruthian proportions. In 1961 baseball expanded its season from 154 games to 162, allowing weaker pitching into the major leagues and two New York Yankees teammates--the colorless Roger Maris and golden boy Mickey Mantle--to make an assault on the sport's ultimate record: Babe Ruth's 60 home runs. To add to the stew, baseball commissioner Ford Frick announced any record set in the last eight games of the season wouldn't count toward the official record; records had to be achieved in 154 games.
Director Billy Crystal guarantees success for his movie in the perfect casting of the leads. Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan's religious sniper) is deft as Maris, and Thomas Jane is a perfect Mantle, a superman in a Yankee uniform. Despite the differences between family man Maris and hard-living Mantle, they form a rewarding friendship amid the media and fan frenzy. The shy Maris took the brunt of the storm, even facing boo-birds in his home stadium. Crystal and first-time writer Hank Steinberg keep the pace moving quickly between the field, the locker room, the press box, and the home front. The film never tries to dazzle with more than the facts (and it softens Mantle up a bit), yet it belongs on the short list of grand baseball movies. --Doug Thomas --This text refers to the DVD edition.See all Product Description
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Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in the 1927 season, and Yankee stadium was still known, a generation later, as the house that Ruth built. In 1961, Ruth's longstanding record seemed secure. Mickey Mantle had inherited the status of 'Yankee favourite' from predecessors Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, but Roger Maris had narrowly beat him in the poll for MVP the previous year, all the more remarkable because Maris was a newcomer from the midwest. The sportwriters were divided in how they reported about the team, but almost all were more focussed upon Mantle until the runs began to stack up. However, the press (and often, it seemed, the fans) were still favouring Mantle, and sometimes booed Maris when he would hit a home run.
Crystal did a good job at showing the kind of personal stresses, both family and professional, that Mantle and Maris had to endure going through what should have been one of the most glorious seasons in baseball history. There was a kind of institutional resistance to anyone breaking Ruth's record, but even more resistance to Maris than to Mantle.Read more ›
I was completely mesmerized by this movie - the story of the 1961 baseball season of the NY Yankees, and the breaking of the Babe Ruth single season home run record. I won't call it a competition between Maris and Mantle, because Mantle seemed not to care one bit if Maris broke it. But the press seemed intent on making it a competition between them. One reason I enjoyed this movie so much is because of the contrast between Mantle's personality and Maris's. At one point Maris tells Mickey how he (Mickey Mantle) is like a movie star to Yankee fans. Mickey shrugs it off, but Maris persists saying how Mantle has a way about him. Maris always seemed to be saying the wrong thing and offending someone even if he didn't mean to. And the fans wanted Mantle to break the record, not Maris.
Billy Crystal did a great job of directing this film. Whoever did the casting did a great job too. The guy playing Mickey Mantle was fascinating to watch. I have only a vague memory of hearing about him as a little girl in the early 60s, but I had seen him over the years doing interviews and such, and this guy had him down pat in my opinion.
Keep watching through the closing credits - great closing scene at the ball park - a father with his little boy tells him, "this is Mickey Mantle, son." Whack! "And that's a home run!" The two actors in this scene are none other than Mickey Mantle's son, Danny, and grandson, Will.
I am the same age as Billy Crystal, but a Cardinal fan. I was 14 years in 1961 and the race for the Babes record was all we talked about for months. I, like most was rooting for the Mick. I couldn't believe the boos that Maris got though. Roger had played his AAA ball in the American Association. As such, he came and played in Omaha. He was one minor lead player that didn't mind signing authographs.
I cried when roger died. I cried when the Mick died. This movie was a real emotional experience for me. Probably only 3 stars for most people, you sort of had to be there to give it 4.
Most recent customer reviews
THE ONLY BASEBALL FILM FOR ME THAT IS SLIGHTLY BETTER IS THE NATURAL----THIS ONE IS TRUE TO FACTS I REMEMBER ALL OF IT---BILLY CRYSTAL, YOU DONE GOODPublished 3 months ago by W. B.
In 1961 Maris and Mantle hit a load of homeruns. Soon there are concerns about Babe Ruth's record of 60 homeruns in 154 game as the season has changed to 162 games. Some swearing.Published 8 months ago by ellison