Baseball Stars of 1962, edited by Ray Robinson
Four out of five stars
The basic form of the “Baseball Stars of N” books is that it is a collections of essays, each about an individual player. The author describes their success in the 1961 season and uses it to extrapolate to predict their performance in 1962 and beyond. While some of the featured players have gone on to a niche in the Baseball Hall of Fame, others faded very fast.
Players such as Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Warren Spahn, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Stan Musial and Roberto Clemente were unquestionably stars before and during the 1962 season. However, for others the peak of their career may have been their appearance in this book. For example, Don Schwall was a pitcher with 15 wins and 7 losses in 1961. His career totals were 49 wins and 48 losses over a seven year career.
Dick Howser is another player featured in this collection. While his batting average was .280 in 1961, this was a career high as when he retired after an eight year career his batting average was .248. Finally, Chuck Schilling only spent five years in the majors and had a .239 lifetime batting average.
The writing is typical of the early sixties, cliche-style attempts at humor abound to little effect. The players are generally presented in a positive light, although there is no glossing over of the problems of Jimmy Piersall or Jim Gentile. In my opinion, the best sections of the book were those about the players that flamed out fairly quickly, as they are players that one rarely hears about.