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61* (2001)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Drama | History  -  28 April 2001 (USA)
7.9
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Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle race to break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record.

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Title: 61* (TV Movie 2001)

61* (TV Movie 2001) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Drama

A young baseball player in the 1940s struggles to make it in the major leagues.

Director: Billy Crystal
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Storyline

Summer, 1961: Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle are on pace to break the most hallowed record in U.S. sports, Babe Ruth's single-season 60 home runs. It's a big story, and the intense, plain-spoken Maris is the bad guy: sports writers bait him and minimize his talent, fans cheer Mantle, the league's golden boy, and baseball's commissioner announces that Ruth's record stands unless it's broken within 154 games. Any record set after 154 games of the new 162-game schedule will have an asterisk. The film follows the boys of summer, on and off the field: their friendship, the stresses on Maris, his frustration with the negative attention, and his desire to play well, win, and go home. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Why did America have room in its heart for only one hero?


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TV-MA | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

28 April 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

61  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joe Grifasi, who played Yankee Broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, later played another iconic Yankee Yogi Berra in the 2007 ESPN mini series The Bronx Is Burning. Christopher McDonald, who played Mel Allen, also appeared as Joe DiMaggio in the same series. See more »

Goofs

Bob Cerv was not a member of the Yankees in the beginning of the 1961 season, he was a member of the Los Angeles Angels. See more »

Quotes

[about the sports press]
Mickey Mantle: That's just great. One guy's got me all washed up, the other's got me beatin' Ruth's record. You guys should get together an' make up your minds, tell me how I am so I know how to play.
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Crazy Credits

The first set of credits lists Dominic Lombardozi; the second, Domenick Lombardozzi. See more »

Connections

Featured in Tell Them Who You Are (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

I Love Mickey
Words & Music by Ruth Roberts, Bill Katz & Teresa Brewer
Performed by Teresa Brewer
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

A Grand Slammer for Crystal & Cast
27 April 2002 | by (Oklahoma) – See all my reviews

Billy Crystal lovingly looks back at the New York Yankees of his childhood in `61.' The movie follows teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle through the 1961 baseball season, in which Maris did the unimaginable - and unforgivable, in the eyes of many fans. He broke Babe Ruth's sacred 1927 record of 60 home runs in a season. Mantle chasing the Babe was one thing; Maris doing it was quite another. The self-proclaimed redneck from North Dakota, ill at ease around the big city media and hoopla, was not the golden boy that Mantle was. The Mick had owned New York for years - especially since his phenomenal triple crown year in 1956. Maris had come over from the lowly Kansas City A's a year earlier and had enjoyed what many assumed was his `career year' in 1960, winning the American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.

The movie focuses on more than just the home run chase. It gives a nice portrayal of Mantle and Maris as men and gives a fairly nice look at Major League life in the slightly less jaded early 1960s. The baseball scenes are quite realistic. Adding to the enjoyment for real baseball fans is the careful attention to detail. Even the opposing pitchers, trying to keep Maris from tying and breaking Babe Ruth's home run record, look real. Knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm looks just LIKE Hoyt Wilhelm. Jim Bunning throws just LIKE Jim Bunning. Jake Wood (seen only in a long shot, as a baserunner) looks like Jake Wood! I could go on, but won't. Attention to detail is a major plus for this production. (Note: In the midst of writing this, I just scrolled down the credits and saw that Wilhelm was portrayed by former Major League knuckleballer, Tom Candiotti! Sheesh! No WONDER his knuckleball looked real! It WAS real! lol)

Maris is played by Barry Pepper, whose physical resemblance to Maris borders on the scary! From his crewcut to his facial expressions, to his physique, Pepper looks exactly like Roger Maris in 1961! He seems to master the swing and other baseball skills, making me guess that he had played college baseball. He also turns in a convincing performance as the introverted Maris becomes the center of attention, controversy and criticism - not just in The Big Apple, but across the nation.

The performance of Thomas Jane as Mantle is also outstanding. He and Pepper accurately portray the stress of a long and grueling baseball season, made more so by separations from loved ones, the pressure of a pennant race and the ever-increasing pressure and scrutiny of the chase on Babe Ruth's hallowed record of 60 home runs. Jane captures the charisma and genuine likeability of Mantle, as well as his less attractive side as a non-attentive parent and unfaithful husband. Chris Bauer, meanwhile, is delightful as outfielder Bob Cerv (pronounced `serve'), a teammate of Maris in KC and his (and later Mantle's) roommie with the Yankees. Crystal's daughter, Jennifer Crystal Foley, is also strong as Pat Maris, struggling hard to support her stressed-out husband and manage their growing family, from halfway across the country. The rest of the cast is first-rate, as well.

The tie-in with the present day (or 1998, at least) shattering of Maris' record by Mark McGwire is effective and gives a more heartwarming feel to the film. McGwire was all class in 1998, going out of his way to accommodate the Maris family and to honor Maris himself (who had died several years earlier); of course he was buoyed by a nation that seemed to urge him on, rather than spit venom at him, like the one Maris faced. The final effect seems to be closure for the spirit of Roger Maris. Perhaps it DID take his record being broken for baseball to forgive the outsider from Dakota for having the audacity to break Ruth's record. Perhaps it DID take the goateed McGwire hitting 70 home runs for baseball fans to realize the significance and difficulty of Maris belting 61 in '61 - still the American League record, by the way. Crystal brings home his film in fine style. He also keeps it fairly clean. One off-color clubhouse exchange between Mantle and Whitey Ford seems to be tossed in primarily to give a sense of it BEING a Big League locker room. Thereafter, the film is largely suitable for the entire family. Overall, I would call `61' one of the better baseball movies ever made.


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