Stars and Strikes
Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of 76
By Dan Epstein
Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9781250034380, 400pp.
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
List Price: $28.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.
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Dan Epstein scored a cult hit with "Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s. "Now he returns with a riotous look at the most pivotal season of the decade.
America, 1976: colorful, complex, and combustible. It was a year of Bicentennial celebrations and presidential primaries, of Olympic glory and busing riots, of "killer bees" hysteria and Pong fever. For both the nation and the national pastime, the year was revolutionary, indeed. On the diamond, Thurman Munson led the New York Yankees to their first World Series in a dozen years, but it was Joe Morgan and Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" who cemented a dynasty with their second consecutive World Championship. Sluggers Mike Schmidt and Dave Kingman dominated the headlines, while rookie sensation Mark "The Bird" Fidrych started the All-Star Game opposite Randy "Junkman" Jones. The season was defined by the outrageous antics of team owners Bill Veeck, Ted Turner, George Steinbrenner, and Charlie Finley, as well as by several memorable bench-clearing brawls, and a batting title race that became just as contentious as the presidential race.
From Dorthy Hamill's "wedge" haircut to Kojak's chrome dome, American pop culture was never more giddily effervescent than in this year of Jimmy Carter, CB radios, AMC Pacers, "The Bad News Bears," "Rocky," "Taxi Driver," the Ramones, KISS, "Happy Days," "Hotel California"," "and "Frampton Comes Alive ---"it all came alive in '76
Meanwhile, as the nation erupted in a red-white-and-blue explosion saluting its two- hundredth year of independence, Major League Baseball players waged a war for their own liberties by demanding free agency. From the road to the White House to the shorts-wearing White Sox, " Stars and Strikes" tracks the tumultuous year after which the sport---and the nation---would never be the same.
“Dan Epstein’s Stars and Strikes is an irreverent, swinging, tome with an attitude that bemuses and amuses. Carefully researched, written with all kinds of style, featuring the Big Red machine, the bird Mark Fidrych mighty Mike Schmidt, the “Junkman” (not Eddie Lopat but Randy Jones, owners Steinbrenner, George, Veeck, Bill, Turner, Ted and Finley, Charles, the work is a roller coaster ride of baseball and America in the Bicentennial summer of ’76 as the book’s sub-title proclaims.”—Harvey Frommer
“The year 1976 was one of epic change, on and off the baseball field. Dan Epstein reminds us why. He excels at blending 1970s pop culture and baseball into an informative, nostalgic, and, above all, fun read. Nobody does it better.” —Doug Wilson, author of Brooks
“At the heart of the book are the stars and events that made 1976 a year to remember….It's easy to see why 1976 captivates Epstein.”—Chicago Tribune Printers Row
Praise for Dan Epstein and 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 Times
“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