Big Hair and Plastic Grass
A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70sBook - 2010
A pop-culture history of baseball in the 1970s cites the advent of such practices as free agency, advocated drug use and garish promotional events while describing the contributions of figures ranging from Ted Turner and Hank Aaron to Carlton Fisk and Reggie Jackson.
The Bronx Is Burning meets Chuck Klosterman in this wild pop-culture history of baseball's most colorful and controversial decade
The Major Leagues witnessed more dramatic stories and changes in the '70s than in any other era. The American popular culture and counterculture collided head-on with the national pastime, rocking the once-conservative sport to its very foundations. Outspoken players embraced free agency, openly advocated drug use, and even swapped wives. Controversial owners such as Charlie Finley, Bill Veeck, and Ted Turner introduced Astroturf, prime-time World Series, garish polyester uniforms, and outlandish promotions such as Disco Demolition Night. Hank Aaron and Lou Brock set new heights in power and speed while Reggie Jackson and Carlton Fisk emerged as October heroes and All-Star characters like Mark "The Bird" Fidrych became pop icons. For the millions of fans who grew up during this time, and especially those who cared just as much about Oscar Gamble's afro as they did about his average, this book serves up a delicious, Technicolor trip down memory lane.
"What the 1960s were to America, the 1970s were to baseball, and Dan Epstein has finally given us the swinging book the '70s deserve."---Rob Neyer, Espn.com columnist and author of Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups
"If Jim Bouton's 1970 memoir, Ball Four, was the book that showed what sex, drugs, and rock `n' roll were doing to pro baseball, Epstein's Big Hair and Plastic Grass is the book that shows what that 1970s brand of baseball did to the rest of us. Only someone who loves America could write this book. This is an ESPN Classics trip right through the freaky heart of our national identity."---Dean Kuipers, Los Angeles Times
"If Roger Angell is baseball writing's perfectionist Tom Seaver, then Dan Epstein must be its irrepressible Dock Ellis. His irreverent prose pops like a Nolan Ryan fastball, rages like an Earl Weaver tirade, and is as memorably untamed as Oscar Gamble's Afro. Epstein lives and breathes baseball and pop culture with equal passion and intensity---and will make you care deeply about both."---Adam Langer, author of Crossing California and The Thieves of Manhattan
From Astroturf and free agency to garish polyester uniforms and World Series night games, baseball witnessed more changes during the turbulent 1970s than in all of its previous decades combined. While America endured the "Me Decade" that brought us Watergate, gas-station lines, and Studio 54, Hank Aaron and Lou Brock set new marks in power and speed: Roberto Clemente, Carlton Fisk, and Reggie Jackson astounded fans with their World Series heroics; and the eccentric antics of such players as Mark "The Bird" Fidrych and Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky were often matched (or even eclipsed) by controversial team owners such as Charlie O. Finley. Bill Veeck, and Ted Turner. Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" and the Oakland A's stood as contrasting dynasties ("the hairs vs. the squares"), while George Steinbrenner got things burning in the Bronx again, and the Pittsburgh Pirates "We are Family" team captured the imagination of fans everywhere.
The '70s were also a time when baseball caught up to the rest of American society. While much of the country experienced a terrific upheaval in the '60s, Major League Baseball had remained surprisingly conservative throughout it all. Yet in the '70s, pop culture and the counterculture collided head-on with the once-conservative sport, rocking it to its very foundations. The Black Power movement, the sexual revolution, the emerging drug culture, the music and---especially---the fashion all reshaped the game in ways that would have been unthinkable just years before. Pop culture historian Dan Epstein goes behind the headline-making stories of the day as Major League Baseball let its freak flag fly: from the pitcher who threw a no-hitter while (he'd later claim) tripping on LSD, to the Yankees teammates who showed up to training camp announcing they'd swapped wives and children, to the outlandish and ill-fated Disco Demolition Night.
In the sometimes stat-heavy world of baseball fandom, the author mines his encyclopedic knowledge of the sport to serve up this delicious helping of American pastime pie---the perfect book for fans who care just as much about Oscar Gamble's Afro as about his OPS. Big Hair and Plastic Grass is a fun-filled trip down memory lane and a thorough but irreverent look at baseball's most overlooked and misunderstood decade.
A pop-culture history of baseball in the 1970s discusses the advent of such practices as free agency, advocated drug use, and garish promotional events.
From Library Staff
I like other sports, but I like baseball best (some would say that alone makes me dinosauristic). I liked it better in the old days. No DH, no interleague games, except the World Series and All-Star Game, no sabermetrics, no pitch counts, no replay, no uniform pants down to the ground . . . "... Read More »