Baseball is full of near-greats. For each of the immortals, there are a dozen or more first-rate players like Richie Ashburn who can lead the league in batting average or in fielding percentage and yet never quite step into the charmed circle of the greats. In Ashburn's case, perhaps it was because the rest of the team of the Philadelphia Whiz Kids who took the pennant in 1950 never quite lived up to their promise. Or perhaps the reputation of his weak throwing arm obscured his exceptional fielding record. Or again it may be that this is the age of the power hitter and the consistent base hitter gets lost in the shuffle. It is these ""perhaps"" that make Richie Ashburn's story a fascinating one to baseball fans. And the human values of the account of a Nebraska boy who makes the big leagues, but who always keeps his small town as home base, should please the general reader.