Sixty years after Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s “unbreakable” home-run record, author Andy Strasberg shares his obsession with baseball, life, and a remarkable era in American history in a new memoir, My 1961.
My 1961 recounts a thirteen-year-old’s infatuation with baseball in a season dominated by Roger Maris’s bid to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record in the midst of the New York Yankees’ pursuit of a World Series championship. In selecting Maris as his personal idol—his boyhood friends, and seemingly much of the world, favored Mickey Mantle—he discovered values that would redirect his path toward adulthood, detailed in daily entries throughout the course of an unforgettable year.
Bronx-raised author Andy Strasberg re-creates that year of adolescent challenges and growing self-awareness in this intriguing combination journal-memoir-scrapbook. Strasberg’s passion for baseball goes beyond that of a devout fan—he chronicles the events of ’61 through a captivating blend of firsthand observations, diligent research, and humorous personal anecdotes.
You’ll spend 1961 escorted by an earnest student of life who confronts authority wherever he meets it—whether in the classroom, on the city’s streets, or in a synagogue.
Along with a vivid account of Roger Maris’s chase of the home-run record, you’ll witness Strasberg’s devious money-making schemes to collect baseball cards, his abrupt departure from religious studies to devote his life to baseball, an ill-fated attempt at a life of petty crime, and his exhilaration at snagging a baseball in Yankee Stadium. You’ll also witness a thirteen-year-old’s growing awareness of the world around him, trying to make sense of developments like the Cuban missile crisis, the Cold War, and racial integration.
My 1961 captures the transition of a boy from childhood to adolescence, a boy deeply influenced by a nation’s pastime that he claimed all to himself.
Andy Strasberg has lived his life in baseball. His working in and writing about the profession of baseball includes 22 years in marketing with the San Diego Padres and 18 years representing high-profile players, as well as consulting for Major League Baseball teams and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
He was a contributor to Ken Burns’ award-winning PBS documentary Baseball, consulted for Billy Crystal’s HBO movie 61*, staged a baseball exhibit at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, proposed and consulted on the 2008 U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamp for the game's anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” and negotiated key sponsorships for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Thank you Andy for what you did in ’61, how you’ve lovingly saved it, and how you developed a loyal friendship with the Maris family through the years. That love comes through here, and it is a gift to all who shared some piece of that magical year, in body or in spirit.”—Marty Appel, author of 24 books including Pinstripe Empire, Casey Stengel, Munson, and Now Pitching for the Yankees. He served the Yankees in PR and television production between 1968-92 and is generally considered the leading historian on the team.
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