In 1960, the New York Yankees's right fielder, Roger Maris (played by Barry Pepper), was named most valuable player for the entire season. Despite this, it was star first baseman and center fielder, Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane), that garnered all the press, yet again.
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As the 1961 baseball season began, Maris begins to feel as though he might be traded. Mantle has begun the season with a hot bat, while Maris's offense has slowed to a standstill. Maris begins to suspect a trade would be in the offing but instead, manager Ralph Houk decides to simply change Maris and Mantle's batting order, a decision that began an amazing year by the "M&M boys," and led many to believe that both were destined to break the decades' old home run record of the great Babe Ruth.
The season progresses and Mantle's vices appear to threaten his chances of reaching the 60 home run plateau. Proving that teammates come before inter-team competition, Maris moves Mantle into his apartment with the hopes of getting Mickey's life back on track.
As Maris and Mantle approach the record, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick is portrayed as having placed a stipulation on the season that unless the record is broken in 154 games (the number of games that comprised a season at the time of Ruth's record), the new record will be listed separately and labeled with an asterisk. By the 1961 season, Major League Baseball has expanded the season to 162 games and many -- including Maris and Mantle -- did not feel that belittling such an accomplishment was right. The two stars did know, however, that Ruth was seen as THE Yankee and that the record was cherished, even if records are made to be broken.
The toll of the season on Mantle's health became undeniable as the season reached its final weeks and ultimately, Mantle had to honor his personal needs. He ends up in a hospital bed, as his shot at Ruth's record becomes a fleeting memory. With Mantle's shot at Ruth's record gone, the pressure on Maris from fans that realized the 61 home run plateau was in reach became extreme and dangerous, proving that society can take something as simple as a child's game and turn it into unneeded drama.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the baseball history in the movie and hated the fact that Major League Baseball could not abide by the premise that records are made to be broken.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Mantle realizes he is putting his health first and talks with Maris about how the record is his alone to pursue. At that moment, Mantle offers encouragement to Maris and shows he is a team player. Through the support of Maris's journey when his Mantle's attempt at the record was done, the scene reminds the viewer that there is no "I" in team.
Opinion about the main character:
Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were such different main characters, completely opposite in just about every way, but both in their own regard, were talented and goal oriented. I could not agree with Mantle's lifestyle, but I also appreciate the pressure that pro athletes face every day with temptation at every turn. Maris was incredibly humble and as much as I admired that, I sometimes wished he would have shown more of his internalized struggle and what he was feeling as opposed to bottling the emotion.