For more than three decades, Babe Ruth's single-season tally of sixty home runs in 1927 stood as baseball's most hallowed record. But when a home-run duel ignited between Yankee teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in the summer of 1961, many fans found themselves rooting for Mantle to beat the Babe's mark. Since joining the ball club in 1951, the switch-hitting Mantle, with his huge swing and phenomenal power, had been widely regarded as the heir to such Yankee titans as Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Now, with four home-run titles and baseball's Triple Crown to his credit, Mantle seemed the natural choice to outdistance the newcomer Maris in the race for Ruth's record. The contest remained neck and neck until September when, sidelined by an infection, Mantle ended his quest at fifty-four home runs, while Maris powered ahead to a new record of sixty-one.
In 1978, Time magazine donated approximately eight hundred works of original cover art to the National Portrait Gallery. The museum is dedicated to telling the stories of individuals who have shaped the United States, and the Time Collection—featuring prominent international figures and events—enriches our understanding of the United States in a global context.