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When asked to comment during Barry Bonds's 2001 pursuit of the single-season home run record that he himself shattered in 1998, Mark McGwire said, "I was lucky enough to reach 70, and now they're all talking about it like it's a piece of cake." It wasn't for Bonds, it wasn't for McGwire, and it certainly wasn't for Roger Maris, who in 1961 competed with his much more popular teammate Mickey Mantle to break Babe Ruth's benchmark of 60 home runs. Originally broadcast on HBO, 61* is the movie that lifelong New York Yankee fan Billy Crystal was born to make; an affectionate but unflinching look at this historic season, the unlikely friendship between the two ballplayers (who were opposites on and off the field), and the pressures Maris in particular faced from a badgering media and increasingly hostile fans. The lineup, while not all-star caliber, is loaded top to bottom with MVP candidates, including a dead-on Barry Pepper as the stoic Maris and a pitch-perfect Thomas Jane as swaggering good ol' boy Mantle. Buffed-up former Geek Hall of Famer Anthony Michael Hall (16 Candles) is pitcher Whitey Ford, and Bruce McGill goes from Animal House to the House That Ruth Built as manager Ralph Houk. Christopher McDonald, usually cast as a smarmy villain, is all smiles as legendary broadcaster Mel "How about that?" Allen.
Though R-rated, this is not as shocking as Jim Bouton's myth-shattering Ball Four. But when it comes to being politically correct, director Crystal plays hardball. Maris smokes, and Mantle drinks and carouses. There are a few errors, none costly. The welling music that accompanies the home-run heroics of "the M&M boys" is as bush league as Glenn Close rising in the stands to rally Robert Redford in The Natural. But baseball movie lovers wouldn't have it any other way. -- Donald Liebenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.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.
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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 9 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 14 months ago by ellison