|Directed by||Billy Crystal|
|Produced by||Robert F. Colesberry|
|Written by||Hank Steinberg|
|Music by||Marc Shaiman|
|Distributed by||HBO Films|
|Release date(s)||April 28, 2001|
|Running time||129 minutes|
61* is a 2001 American sports drama film written by Hank Steinberg and directed by Billy Crystal. It stars Barry Pepper as Roger Maris and Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle on their quest to break Babe Ruth's 1927 single-season home run record of 60 during the 1961 season of the New York Yankees. The film first aired on HBO on April 28, 2001.
In 1998, the family of the late Roger Maris are preparing to go to Busch Stadium to witness Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals break their father's record with 62 home runs. Maris' widow, Pat, is hospitalized due to complications from arrhythmia and watches the game on television from a hospital bed.
Decades earlier in 1961, Maris is presented with the Most Valuable Player award for the 1960 baseball season, but Mantle remains the team's superstar. As the season begins, Mantle starts off hot while Maris struggles. Maris suspects he may be traded, but new manager Ralph Houk decides to have Mantle and Maris switch places in the Yankees batting order to see if it helps. It does, and Maris begins to hit home runs at a record pace. Mantle keeps pace and it soon becomes clear that both "M&M Boys" are going to make a run at the Babe's record.
Mickey's life off the field is taking a toll on his playing. He drinks, enjoys the Manhattan nightlife and arrives at the ballpark hung over. More than once, pitcher Whitey Ford has to bail him out or sober him up. To keep Mantle out of trouble, Maris and teammate/roommate Bob Cerv invite him to move in with them in a modest apartment in Queens, with one condition: no women.
New York's fans and media are pulling for the popular and personable Mantle, a long-time Yankee. The quieter Maris is viewed as an outsider, aloof and unworthy. As the two men close in on the record, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick, who also happened to be Babe Ruth's admirer and ghostwriter, makes a decision: unless the record is broken in 154 games (the same number Ruth played in 1927), the new record would be listed separately from Ruth's record, because MLB had just begun using a new 162-game season (contrary to popular belief, and the movie's title, there was never any "asterisk" involved or mentioned in real life).
It appears Mantle is not going to make it; his health deteriorates and he plays in constant pain. Maris, meanwhile, is unaccustomed to such a high level of public scrutiny and is uncomfortable interacting with the media, who dissect and distort everything he says or does. The fans heckle Maris and even throw objects at him on the field. Soon he begins receiving hate mail and death threats. His wife lives far from New York, usually available only by phone. The stress becomes so intense that Maris' hair begins to fall out in clumps. The Yankees owner also tries to favor Mantle by asking Houk to switch Mantle and Maris in the batting order, but Houk refuses, because the redesigned lineup has been winning a higher percentage of games.
Chronic injury and alcohol abuse catch up with Mantle, and an ill-advised injection by a doctor infects his hip and lands him in a hospital bed. With Mantle gone from the lineup, the stage becomes set for Maris. He fails to break the record in the 154th game of the season, but he does finally hit the record-breaking 61st home run during the final game of the 162-game season.
According to a voiceover (by long-time Yankee Stadium public address announcer Bob Sheppard), during the end credits, no asterisk was ever officially placed next to Roger's feat, due to separate records being created for the 154 and 162 game seasons. It is revealed that in 1991, six years after Roger's death, baseball's then-Commissioner Fay Vincent decided that a season is a season and separate records would no longer be kept, leaving Maris as the lone record-holder.
- Barry Pepper as Roger Maris
- Thomas Jane as Mickey Mantle
- Anthony Michael Hall as Whitey Ford
- Richard Masur as Milt Kahn
- Bruce McGill as Ralph Houk
- Chris Bauer as Bob Cerv
- Jennifer Crystal Foley as Pat Maris (1961)
- Patricia Crowley as Pat Maris (1998)
- Christopher McDonald as Mel Allen
- Bob Gunton as Dan Topping
- Donald Moffat as Ford Frick
- Joe Grifasi as Phil Rizzuto
- Peter Jacobson as Artie Green
- Seymour Cassel as Sam Simon
- Robert Joy as Bob Fishel
- Michael Nouri as Joe DiMaggio
- Tom Candiotti as Hoyt Wilhelm
- E.E. Bell as Fan impersonating Babe Ruth
Filming locations 
Most of the baseball action scenes, including those set at Yankee Stadium, were actually filmed at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Michigan. A combination of strategic photographing and post-production effects were used to enhance the illusion of the "classic" layout of Yankee Stadium. Tiger Stadium was credited as "playing" Yankee Stadium in the closing credits. The shots depicting Fenway Park and Baltimore's Memorial Stadium were shot at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Critical reception 
The film received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 80% out of 15 professional critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 6.7/10. Film critic Richard Roeper named 61* one of his top five all-time favorite baseball movies.