SABR Bibliography Committee
Research Guide No. 4: Index to Baseball Stars, 1950-75
Editor’s note: This guide was first published by the SABR Bibliography Committee in 1986. To download the original in PDF form, click here.
By Frank Phelps
This popular annual series of collective biographies commenced with Baseball Stars of 1950, resumed after a three-year interval with Baseball Stars of 1953, and continued yearly through 1975 in paperbacks of pocketbook size. Lion Books, Inc., New York, published and Bruce Jacobs edited them through the 1957 edition. Thereafter Pyramid Books, New York, issued them with Ray Robinson as editor. The 1950 and 1953 issues contained only reprints from the magazines Sport Life, Sports Stars, and Complete Baseball but subsequent annuals presented only biographies written specifically for the series. The books were not illustrated except for the sketches of Lenny Hollreiser in the initial issue.
The 24 books provided 519 biographical articles (average per book: 26 during 1950-1956 and 17 during 1957-1975) by 79 journalists featuring 264 players and managers. The articles varied in length from 1,200 to 4,000 words with a 3,000 word average and were supplemented by the career batting or pitching statistics for each subject except in the 1953 through 1957 editions. All dealt with single subjects except 24 which treated two together, usually teammates. 162 men appeared as subjects once only but others were featured repeatedly, especially Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle, 19 times each; Willie Mays, 17; Roberto Clemente and Stan Musial, 12 each; Ernie Banks, 9; Warren Spahn, 8; Brooks Robinson, 7; and Rocky Colavito, Al Kaline, Harvey Kuenn, and Ted Williams, 6 each.
The most biographies were contributed by Robinson, 102; Jacobs, 63 (including all the 1956 and 1957 ones); Arnold Hano, 40; Bill Furlong, 30; Harold Rosenthal, 24.5; Dick Kaplan, 21; Al Silverman, 19; Al Hirshberg, 16; Bob Deindorfer, 15; George Vecsey, 14, and Dan Schlossberg, 10. Rosenthal and Milt Richman shared credit for one 1953 biography.
Other types of material appeared periodically. The 1955 edition provided 100-word profiles on each of 15 managers. The 1961 edition added “Quickies”, 300-word pieces on six more players. Most issues included brief sections (of slight importance) covering prior season or all-time records and statistics. Bob Considine wrote a foreword to the first edition. Jacobs inserted introductions called “Batter Up” in the 1953, 1954, and 1955 books. And Robinson annually wrote prefaces to his editions in a relaxed, personalized style on favorite or timely baseball topics – well worth the few minutes’ reading time they involve.
A successor series put out by Contemporary Books, Inc., Chicago, so far includes Baseball Stars 1985 and Baseball Stars 1986, 8.5″ x 11″ soft cover books, each containing 40 1,000-word “miniprofiles” of players plus career statistics and photographs. One contributor to the earlier series, Dan Schlossberg, has done all the writing.
Two indexes concerning the earlier series follow: an author index and a player/manager subject index. You can access those by downloading the PDF file below:
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