Sports Movies: “61*” (2001)

Screenshot Barry Pepper as Roger Maris in 61 movie

There was a time when baseball’s home run record really meant something. It was mythical. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, hitting more home runs than 12 teams that year!

Ruth’s home run record stood for 34 years, until Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961, though Major League Baseball shamefully put an asterisk next to Maris’s record. The Babe had set the record during a 154-game season, while Maris broke the record during a 162-game season. Maris also broke the record in a season following expansion, further angering baseball purists who felt he didn’t deserve to be labeled the Home Run King.

The steroid era made discussions of the record even more controversial. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa shattered the record in the memorable 1998 season when McGwire hit 70 home runs and Sosa hit 66. Barry Bonds followed that with an amazing 73 in the 2001 season. But the steroid scandal exposed McGuire, Sosa and Bonds, making a mockery of the home run record. This context helps explain why so many wanted to crown Aaron Judge as the “true” holder of the record with his 62 home runs in the 2022 season.

“61*” is a historical drama that tells the story of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle as they chased the Babe’s record in the 1961 season. Mantle was already a legend in the minds of most baseball fans, while Maris was the new kid on the block on New York even though he won the MVP in 1960 in his first season as a Yankee.

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Baseball film characters who were on PEDs

PYLE OF LIST put together a creative piece dedicated to baseball movie characters that probably took performance-enhancing drugs in order to be successful on the big screen diamond. Some of the names on this list are startling, yet can we really be surprised that Dottie Henson of the Peaches was probably on the juice?

Kelly Leak (Jakie Earl Hayley) – Bad News Bears
The first name hurts the most of all. Our very own Hall of Famer, a dirty rotten cheat. Although, in hindsight, we really should have seen this one coming. I mean, smoking cigarettes at the field, riding a dirt bike underage, betting girls for dates at air hockey. Clearly this was a player with no regard for anyone’s rules but his own.

Dottie Henson (Geena Davis) – A League of their Own
Dominant hitter for short period of time (one season). A foot taller than all others in the league. Manager asking if she needs a cup (remember, he was in that locker room, he saw what all that testosterone was doing to her). No brainer.

Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) – The Natural
We’ve seen this story before: an aging player suddenly turning in the best performance of his career well past his prime. Sure, being a gunshot victim had a great deal to do with his inactivity but the numbers are a little fishy. It’s highly unlikely that an old, undersized slugger could hit with that kind of power consistently after a lengthy lay-off, even with “Wonderboy” and his God-given ability to mash. Perhaps he was the Grandfather of the Steroid era.

Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nichols) – Rookie of the Year
You know what, call me paranoid but I’m no longer buying his doctor’s “tendons healed too tight” story any more. A twelve year old who sucks at little league one day, visits the doc and before you know it is closing for the Cubs… yeah, it must be the tendons…

Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) – Major League
Lord knows Ricky Vaughn would do anything to gain an advantage, so steroids certainly wouldn’t be out of the question, particularly in the era in which he played. In many ways, he’s kinda like the lost Giambi brother… and we know what they did to break in to baseball. While most of his initial issues had to do with his vision, I’m sure a few PEDs wouldn’t hurt his vision, velocity or recovery time. Think Eric Gagne without the goatee.

Great list – love the Giambi brother reference to “Wild Thing.”

The only addition I would make to the list is the entire team from “Angels in the Outfield.” Angels helping a team win? Please – every player on that team was as high as a kite and on various forms of drugs. One week they’re the laughing stock of the league and the next they’re flying around the field? Give me a break – I’d love to see the test results from that club.

Favorite sports movie fat kids paid a hilarious tribute to the top seven sports movie fat kids of all-time.

2. Ham, The Sandlot

He’s one of the greatest trash-talkers in sports movie history, even if he was doing so against fellow ten-year olds. He also became the first person in baseball history to hit a home run, the one against the rich club team, that actually traveled backwards off the bat. If you haven’t seen Sandlot recently or in the neighborhood of 200 times, I apologize for such an obscure reference. But it’s true.

If you don’t like the “Great Hambino,” you don’t like America.

By the way, while searching for Ham Porter YouTube clips, I stumbled upon this video, which is freaking outstanding. Anyone who has seen the movie “300” will appreciate it.

The Top 10 Announcers In Sports Movies

Rumors and Rants ranked the top 10 announcers in sports movies. No surprise which announcer took the top spot.

1. Harry Doyle (Major League)
What more can be said of Harry Doyle? He’s easily the greatest sports movie broadcaster of all-time. The gap between his performance and any other is so wide that it’s almost not fair to include him on this list. Bob Uecker’s performance as the ultimate homer-announcer is simply fantastic. He’s off the cuff calls and condescending attitude towards his own team are perfect. He even drags his dead weight color guy Monty through the movie, which is both hilarious and true to life. Then when you throw in the insults he hurls at his Indians and their opponents, it makes for one of the best performances in the history of sports movies.

Memorable lines:
“In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Indians have managed to win a few ball games, and are threatening to climb out of the cellar.”

Harry Doyle: “That’s all we got, one goddamn hit?”
Assistant: “You can’t say goddamn on the air.”
Harry Doyle: “Don’t worry, nobody is listening.”

“The post-game show is brought to you by … (searches through his papers) … Christ, I can’t find it. To hell with it.”

“Remember fans, Tuesday night is Die Hard Night. Free admission for anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won the pennant.”

(Vaughn throws a pitch to the backstop) “Juuust a bit outside, tried the corner and missed. (Vaughn throws another wild pitch) Ball four. (Vaughn throws another wild pitch) Ball eight. (Vaughn throws another wild pitch) Low and he walks the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. How can these guys lay off pitches that close?”

“Haywood swings and hits one towards South America. Hayes is gonna need a rocket up his ass to catch this one…”

Harry Doyle is announcing, folks.

Best sports movies quotes ranks the top 15 best movie quotes.

13. Major League (1989) – (13a) – Willie: “Willie Mays Hayes here. I hit like Mayes, and I run like Hayes.” – Coach: “You may run like Hayes, but you hit like shit.” – (13b) – “Juuuuust a bit outside.” – (13c) – “Up your butt, Jobu.”

6. Bull Durham (1988) – (6a) “I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents on Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” – (6b) – “Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring. Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some groundballs. It’s more democratic.”

1. Caddyshack (1980) – (1a) – “I hear this place is restricted, Wang, so don’t tell ‘em you’re Jewish, OK? All right.” – (1b) – “You’ll get nothing and like it.” – (1c) – “This is a hybrid. This is a cross, ahhh, Bluegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bent and Northern California Sensemilia. The amazing stuff about this is, that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus-belt that night on this stuff. Here, I’ve got pounds of this.” – (1d) – “This crowd has gone deathly silent, the Cinderella story, outta nowhere, a former greenskeeper, now – about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mira….. It’s in the hole!”

Not that I have a problem with the lines they chose, but they went a little too mainstream in my opinion. For example, these lines in Major League were funnier to me than the ones they chose:

Harris: “You trying to tell me Jesus Christ can’t hit a curve ball?”

Lou Brown: “Nice catch Hayes – don’t ever fucking do it again.”

Taylor: “Who’s that guy she’s with?”
Vaughn: “You want me to drag him outta here – kick the shit out of him?”

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