It isn’t often I will write a review on a book that I didn’t like, but this is an exception – and it wasn’t the whole book that I didn’t like, just wish that it had more baseball. The other topics made up for that disappointment. Here is my review of “1962.”
“1962: Baseball and America in the Time of JFK” by David Krell
Baseball, history, politics, Colt 45s, Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants
May 1, 2021
3 of 5 stars (okay)
For both baseball and America, 1962 was an exciting year. In baseball, the National League pennant came down to a best of three playoff between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. The league expanded to 10 teams, adding the Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets. While the New York Yankees won in the American League yet again, two surprising teams there included the Minnesota Twins and California Angels. Both of those teams not only surpassed expectations but also had a pitcher throw a no hitter.
As for America, between the changes in entertainment such as television shows and movies, the excitement generated by the young and attractive President and First Lady and the pride the entire country had with the space program, that was producing an optimistic feeling around the nation. Both of these subjects are blended together in this book by David Krell.
The book would be described better by switching around the words “baseball” and “America” in the title as there is much more information on American events in television, movies, politics, society and space than there is about baseball. In the introduction, Krell states that he will only write about five teams – the two new National League franchises plus the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees. The other two mentioned in this review, the Angels and Twins, only had brief mentions because of the no hitters and also because Angels pitcher Bo Belinsky made more headlines on the society pages than on the sports pages because of his marriage to Mamie Van Doren.
Then, when one reads about those five teams, this is mostly a short description of the teams on the field. Instead, the dialogue is most short biographies about the more important players on those teams. These are all brief, whether the player was a star at the time or a bench jockey – if there was something interesting to share, Krell did so. A reader looking for writing about the actual play on the field will find the most about that in the chapter on the World Series, and even then there are some games that are covered thoroughly and some get just scant text.
However, if the reader is looking for material on the other topics, then this book is a treasure trove of information. I found the most interesting parts on these topics were anything on the space program and the writing on the Belinsky-Van Doren marriage. These and other topics, especially those about President Kennedy or the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and her televised “tour” of the White House were the better parts of the book. Because these were very good, I did decide to finish the book even though I was hoping to read more about baseball. With a two star rating for the baseball writing and the four star rating for the writing on other topics, I give this one an overall rating of three stars and while I would not recommend it for baseball readers, I do believe that readers interested in other topics that were newsworthy in 1962 would find this book enjoyable.
I wish to thank University of Nebraska Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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