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1961*: The Inside Story of the Maris-Mantle Home Run Chase (Rough Cut) Hardcover – April 1, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Phil Pepe was a New York Yankees beat writer for the New York World-Telegram & Sun in 1961, where he covered Roger Maris' race for the single season home run record. He was the Yankees beat writer for the New York Daily News from 1968 through 1981 and is a past president of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He is the author of more than 50 books on sports, including a biography of Yogi Berra and collaborations with Yankees legends Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin, and Whitey Ford.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Triumph Books (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600783902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600783906
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #510,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't know what I was expecting from this book when there have been so many other books I have in my library on the 1961 Yankees. The oldest one would be "Ballplayers Are Human, Too" by Ralph Houk and Charles Dexter which came out the year following that magical 1961 season. Then came "Sixty One" by Tony Kubek and Terry Pluto followed by "Season of Glory" by Ralph Houk and Robert Creamer. Add two biographies of Roger Maris one by Maury Allen and the latest by Tom Clavin and Danny Peary, and we have covered the 1961 season of the M & M boys pretty well.

This latest effort by Phil Pepe is a straight-forward account with the first half of the book briefly detailing the career of Roger Maris. The second half dwells on the pressure he faced, the controversy with Commissioner Ford Frick's ruling stating The Babe's record had to be broken in 154 games, the so-called feud between Mantle and Maris, and the hassles with reporters. Frick stated that the 162 game season would be temporary with the season reverting to 154 games when two additional teams would be added through expansion within a few years. Of course, that never happened as we still have a 162 game season. The author wonders why there were so few fans at the last game of the season in Yankee Stadium when Maris was going for a record sixty-one home runs. Bill Veeck answered that in his book "The Hustler's Handbook" when he stated Commissioner Frick took the excitement out of it with his crazy ruling. Frick, who was a ghost writer for Ruth in previous years, naturally sided with The Babe and didn't want to see the record broken.

This book is a quick read, only 265 pages, and small in size. I purchased two copies, one to give to a friend. It was two copies too many. I'm donating the other copy to our local library. There is nothing new here that hasn't been said in several other books. This book is best for middle school or high school students.
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Format: Hardcover
1961* is a breezy yet colorless chronicle of Roger Maris' and Mickey Mantle's 1961 assaults on what was the most hallowed and prestigious record in sports, Babe Ruth's single-season home run record. The book takes a Maris-centric approach, with much of the first half serving as a biography of the reluctant hero, while Mantle stays in the background throughout. Pepe does a satisfactory job presenting the essentials of the famed home run chase, but there is no new insight here, there's a paucity of anecdotes to inject the narrative with life, and too often it reads like little more than transcribed box scores. The story does become more vivid once the season reaches August, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is when Pepe, then a newspaper reporter, was assigned to the Yankees beat, but still not by as much as one would hope or expect.

Pepe also has a grating tendency to belabor points and repeat himself, virtually verbatim, over and over again within the space of a handful of pages, as if the prior mention(s) had never been made. On page 83, he writes: "Maris and Mantle were both held hitless, and the Yanks fell to the Tigers 4-2." Two pages later, describing the same game: "Mantle and Maris both went hitless against Regan, and the Yanks lost the series opener 4-2." On page 100, he writes: "[C]ommissioner Ford C. Frick was preparing for a meeting with a group of baseball writers in the commissioner's offices in Rockefeller Center, [when] word came out of Atlanta that Ty Cobb had died in Emory University Hospital at the age of 74." On page 106: "On July 17, baseball commissioner Ford C. Frick was meeting with a group of veteran baseball writers at the commissioner's office in Rockefeller Center.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1961, two Yankee sluggers, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, set their sights on the holy grail of baseball records: Babe Ruth's all-time single-season record of 60 home runs. By the end of the season, Maris surpassed Ruth's 60, but it took him 162 games as opposed to Ruth's 154 games. This sparked a controversy which would last until 1991, when then-commissioner Fay Vincent declared Maris' 61 home runs to be the legitimate record.

In the first part of the book, the reader gets a glimpse into the early career of Roger Maris. Hailing from Fargo, North Dakota, Maris excelled at football, basketball, baseball, and track. But baseball was his best sport. Eventually, he made his way into the Cleveland Indians system and finally, to the major leagues. He was eventually traded to the Kansas City Athletics and then on to the Yankees, where he teamed with Mantle to form a formidable 3-4 combination in the line up.

In 1961, Roger was coming off an MVP season. He had managed to squeak by Mantle in the 1960 MVP balloting and there was talk about the possibility of Ruth's record falling in 1961. Both Maris and Mantle shrugged the idea off, but as the season wore on, both men found themselves ahead of Ruth's 1927 pace. Fan favorite Mantle and the subdued Maris waged a season-long assault on the Babe. By mid-September, both had over 50 home runs, and Ruth's record was in sight. But, Mantle, his body aching from injuries, finally threw in the towel; he finished with 54. Maris, however, kept on. Despite the tremendous daily pressure from fans and press alike, Roger managed to hit number 61 on the final day of the season.

I found "1961*" to be an informative book, yet it only gives the reader a broad overview of what Maris was up against.
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