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Roger Maris


The race between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle for Babe Ruth's home run record was chronicled in the 2001 HBO film 61*. The asterisk in the title refers to the qualification then-Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick, who also was the ghostwriter of Ruth's autobiography, attached to the record. Produced and directed by comedian and die-hard New York Yankees fan Billy Crystal and filmed at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, 61* is not so much a story of an athletic rivalry as it is an attempt to dispel the media-driven myth that Maris and Mantle were enemies, and to portray the intense public pressure placed on Maris by both the press and fans of Mantle and Ruth. "Why does everybody only have room in their hearts for one guy?" Maris, played by Barry Pepper, asks at one point in the film. Playing Maris took its toll on Pepper, who gained a deep appreciation of the stress the legendary Yankee suffered. "When I first read the script, I had nightmares," he told the St. Petersburg Times. "It was hard not to feel for all that Maris went through that year. He was just a farm boy … stuck in the middle of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle's legacy."

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBaseballRoger Maris Biography - Just A Summer Sport, Moves To Majors, 61*, Chronology, Heads To St. Louis