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Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76 (Thomas Dunne Books)
When our nation celebrated its 200th birthday in 1976 it marked a year in which the United States hadn’t been involved in an active war for over twelve years, the radio airwaves saw an overflow of songs dedicated mostly to carnal pleasures, TV comedies started getting a little more daring, clothes became more outrageous with disco on the horizon, and baseball saw a re-birth like it hadn’t experienced in decades. Award-winning journalist and esteemed pop culture chronicler Dan Epstein takes the reader back in time to an amazing year of baseball – amazingly wonderful and amazingly crazy in Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76.
By the 1976 season, baseball was beginning to be defined by big afros and long hair, by cookie-cutter multi-purpose stadiums that truly did look exactly alike, and by more than one team donning some of the most hideous looking uniforms the game has ever witnessed. Oh, and Astroturf, way too much Astroturf. The ’76 season also saw a clash between the last feel-good moments and outrageous personalities of the game as well as the looming labor angst and the full onset of wide open free agency. Change had subtly been taking place, but by the end of that 1976 season much of the game’s innocence would be lost forever and baseball would never be the same again.
Each chapter of Stars and Strikes is titled for a famous song of that year and the baseball exploits covered therein truly follows the theme of the songs themselves. Along with baseball coverage, Dan Epstein also highlights the events of the world around the game of baseball: Olympic exploits, a new President signaling the end of the Watergate era, busing riots, the trial of heiress Patty Hearst, the tragic Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak in Philadelphia, and so many more.
Dan Epstein brought the rollercoaster decade of the 1970s to readers’ attention with his widely acclaimed Big Hair and Plastic Grass. Stars and Strikes brings to life all the characters, events and cultural forces behind the Spirit of ’76.
Praise for Big Hair and Plastic Grass
"There is a trove of nuggets many of us either never knew or
forgot...savor the good parts, which are plentiful." --The New York
"Dan Epstein and baseball in the '70s go together like Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon." --Wall Street Journal
"What the 1960s were to America, the 1970s were to baseball, and Dan Epstein has finally given us the swinging book the '70s deserve." --ESPN.com
"Dan Epstein--the leading chronicler of '70s baseball." --Deadspin
"Epstein's book waves its freak flag high."--The Onion A.V. Club
Dan Epstein is an award winning journalist, pop culture historian, and avid baseball fan who has written for Rolling Stone, SPIN, Men’s Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, MOJO, Guitar World, Revolver, LA Weekly and dozens of other publications. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Photo by Katie Howerton