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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 28 2009

Star-studded night: Maris family, Crystal and Costas turn out for '61*' showing

Philadelphia claims “Rocky.” Indiana has “Hoosiers.” A cornfield in Iowa has “Field of Dreams.”

Now, it’s becoming clear that Fargo is taking ownership in a sports movie of its own in “61*.” It’s a marriage that is showing no signs of strain, and the celebration came Saturday night at the Fargo Theatre.

A jolt of powerful rain and wind greeted spectators before the show. A brief power outage about one-third of the way through the film darkened the theatre.

What’s a stormy season without a stormy night?

“This has been a magical experience tonight,” said Jennifer Crystal Foley, who plays Pat Maris in the movie. “I’m overwhelmed with the idea that the Maris family is here.”

Joined on stage by Bob Costas, Billy Crystal gave over 800 fans including Pat Maris, her children and grandchildren, a taste of what makes him one of the world’s all-time greatest comedians. A sound snafu at the start of the movie prompted Crystal to take the stage and deliver an impromptu routine that only he can do.

“Stop texting,” he yelled to the “projectionist.”

Nostalgia was everywhere, with the historic setting of the Fargo Theatre providing the perfect backdrop. The 2001 movie tells the story of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and their pursuit of Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1961.

“I think there’s something special about a sports film when done right,” said Ross Greenburg, the movie’s producer. “They live forever.”

Greenburg was joined by other cast members Barry Pepper (Roger Maris), and Paul Borghese (Yogi Berra).

Crystal introduced the cast and talked about the “great experience” of making the film, his voice tainted with emotion.

“It still tugs at my heart,” he said of the story.

Later, he said, “I was so choked up.”

Costas said earlier in the day that the Fargo Theatre appearance wasn’t something Crystal did out of obligation.

“You would be hard pressed to find somebody of his standing to do something like this,” Costas said. “He is not a Hollywood debutante who did a movie about baseball and disappeared. This is part of his life.”

And it is on course to be part of Fargo’s life for a long time.

“This one is timeless,” Crystal said.

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia