A competent but uninspired account of the year in which Roger Maris, Ford Frick, and the asterisk overshadowed yet another Yankees world championship. Creamer (Babe, 1974; Stengel His Life and Times, 1984) fails to deliver what his slim (even by baseball-book standards) subject would seemingly promise: a satisfying, original portrait of Maris, one of the game's most enigmatic figures. The '61 Yankee season climaxed on its final day, when Marls hit the historic 61st homer that broke Babe Ruth's long-standing record, yet Creamer's account of the slugger's trying final weeks fails to fully illuminate the fragile mind that nearly destroyed itself in the pursuit. Unfortunately, Houk--who managed the Yankees that year--is also little help. His off-the-cuff anecdotes and profiles interspersed throughout Creamer's blow-by-blow chronicle lend only shallow insight; to Houk, Marls was just another ""nice guy."" This leaves Mantle as the book's most sympathetic figure, but here he's the affable country strong-boy we've already come to know. Other aspects of this book frustrate, too, particularly Creamer's mystifying attempt to establish historical context--the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall, even conflict in Zaire are inexplicably alluded to, while a relevant issue like hotel segregation of black players in spring training is glossed over. Familiar nostalgia without real purpose or punch.