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Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76 Hardcover – April 29, 2014

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Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76 + Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s + Swinging '73: Baseball's Wildest Season
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A knuckleball ride through the wonderful and wacky year the nation celebrated its 200th birthday--and the national pastime changed forever… A must for everyone who still remembers when the White Sox wore shorts. (Kirkus Reviews)

Epstein found so much fun stuff to talk about in the 1976 season while researching his book on baseball in the 1970s (Big Hair & Plastic Grass) that he carved out this breezily written chronological look back at a year and a season more complicated (teams nearly moved, free agency exploded, Hank Aaron retired, etc.) than even those who lived through it will recall. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Summer Reading Recommendations)

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)

Baseball baby boomers will appreciate the nostalgia Epstein dishes out with some small helpings of contemporary pop culture; each chapter bears the title of a popular song. Never too serious and always fun, Stars and Strikes is what baseball--and all sports--should be about. (Book Reporter)

It's clear that 1970s baseball is dear to Epstein's heart, as this book meshes baseball, politics, music and cultural trends into a very entertaining, readable book… Epstein's research is thorough and his writing is irreverent, funny and at times even as cheesy as the trends he describes. Stars and Strikes is a fine nostalgic trip, but it's also a solid read for the current generation of baseball fans. (The Tampa Tribune)

I'll buy any book with Dan Epstein's name on the cover. (Bill Morris, The Millions)

Dan Epstein's grand slam of a book catches how baseball changed - and changed everything -- in 1976. (The Modern)

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)

Dan Epstein captures the spirit of '76 in his new book, Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76. The book is the sequel to Epstein's 2010 '70s show, "Big Hair and Plastic Grass," in which each year of the polyester decade had its own chapter -- not nearly enough room to capture the on and off the field fireworks of the Bicentennial. (NY Daily News)

Dan Epstein (Big Hair and Plastic Grass) contrives a baseball micro history in Stars and Strikes… [and] lend[s] itself to amusing narratives and bouts of nostalgia. (The Daily Beast)

Dan Epstein gives this storied year the book it deserves in Stars and Strikes, detailing the characters, events, and cultural forces behind the Spirit of '76. (Pasadena Now)

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 on BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS)

Dan Epstein and baseball in the '70s go together like Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon. (Wall Street Journal on BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS)

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 on BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS)

Dan Epstein--the leading chronicler of 70s baseball. (Deadspin on BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS)

Epstein's book waves its freak flag high. (The Onion A.V. Club on BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS)

About the Author

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 is the author of the acclaimed Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (April 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250034388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250034380
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Epstein is an award-winning journalist who has written for Rolling Stone, MOJO, the LA Times, Guitar World, Revolver, eMusic, the Jewish Daily Forward and dozens of other print and online outlets. Epstein has worked as a producer at VH-1, an editor at Revolver magazine and the now-defunct ShockHound.com, and is the author of "Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76," "Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s," "Honky-Tonk Tourist: The Night Buck Owens Almost Got Me Killed," and "20th Century Pop Culture". An avid historian of music, baseball and pop culture, Epstein has been dubbed "The Bangs-ian Herodotus of 70s Baseball" by "Cardboard Gods" author Josh Wilker. A Detroit Tigers fan since the mid-70s, he adopted the Chicago Cubs as his National League team in 1980, for better and (mostly) worse. Epstein lives in Los Angeles, and is available for public speaking engagements.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Peter Schilling on April 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Dan Epstein turns his considerable talents toward the swinging 70s again, this time focusing on 1976. And from what I've read in "Stars and Strikes"--as exciting a baseball tale as you're going to find this year (or any other)--what a year it was.

"Stars and Strikes" opens with a restless crowd in beleaguered New York City going beserk: it's the last game of the American League Championship Series. Like some kind of Robert Altman of the page, Epstein takes the reader around the ballpark, into the dugout, over to Telly Savalas in the stands, up into the broadcast booth, to the fans of the Yanks and the Royals and what this one game means to the both of them… an incredible opening. And the book just sails on from there, an exciting ride.

Epstein's prose is clean and concise, not a wasted word, not a wasted scene. I'm impressed with how he weaves baseball, politics, the pop culture scene and especially music into this story--you really feel like you can hear Peter Frampton while you're reading (whether that's good or bad depends upon your love of Frampton--there's a ton of other songs in there as well.)

In his last book, "Big Hair and Plastic Grass", Epstein took us through that crazy decade. I really enjoyed that book, but "Stars and Strikes" is better, only because he's now allowed to focus on one year, to take that narrative and expand upon all the events from that amazing season. Even more impressive, Epstein took what appears on its surface to be a dull year and show how brilliant it really was--three of the four division races were over by early September (only the Royals were close), and the World Series was a sweep.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Malverne Ed on May 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dan Epstein does another fantastic job with baseball in the 1970's. This time he details the 1976 season & life in America during that time. How I miss when baseball wasn't as corporate & sterile like today. Players weren't as image conscious as they are today. Dan has another winner of a book in my opinion. I hope he continues writing about baseball because he takes the reader down memory lane.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Glenn McCready on May 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a wonderful trip down memory lane. My only beef was that it is too short. But as Spencer Tracy once said,there ain't much meat,but what's there is "cherce"...and it's quite good
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jon Fox on May 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Author Dan Epstein deftly chased the 8-Track era "Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging `70s" with his latest book, "Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76." While the inspired "Big Hair and Plastic Grass" from 2010 took on a macro, one-chapter review of 1976, "Stars and Strikes" goes deep, circling the `76 bases from start-to-close, capturing what went down in Major League Baseball as America's over-the-top Bicentennial celebration served as a backdrop. Any fan of the national pastime from the legendary and colorful `70s, who pulled one too many Mike Lum cards from a pack of Topps, can relate to the ambitious "Stars and Strikes." Epstein's command is perfect as he goes the distance mixing baseball with pop culture and politics from the all-about-red-white-and-blue year of '76. "Stars and Strikes" cleverly captures America and MLB in '76, with pennant winning authority. Props go out to Dan Epstein for chronicling the turbulent year of `76 on and off the diamond. The Spirit of '76!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Judging by his hairstyle, Dan Epstein would definitely not have been a member of the New York Yankees or Cincinnati Reds, the two teams that met, albeit briefly, in the 1976 World Series (the Reds took all four games, much to the consternation of owner George Steinbrenner). They represented the conservative side of baseball at a crossroads between the generations.

Before Epstein gets to that fall classic, however, he offers what the late Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy would have called a “happy recap” of the watershed season that corresponded with America’s 200th anniversary celebration.

The year featured the decline of old school ownership philosophy and the progress of free agency, still in its “breaking in” period; the return of maverick owner Bill Veeck and the debut of “Captain Outrageous,” Ted Turner; new stars making names for themselves; ever-present racial issues even in the post-Civil Rights era; and, of course, pillbox caps and “softball shorts” (thank you for those, Mr. Veeck). Epstein covers all this and more in his follow-up to BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s.

Basic information about the games on the field can certainly be found elsewhere; that’s not why you’ll read STARS AND STRIKES. You’ll read it for his analysis, commentaries, and the behind-the-scenes stories, such as the contentious ending for the American League batting title between Kansas City Royals teammates George Brett and Hal McRae with its possible racial overtones. Then there was the insinuation/interference of commissioner Bowie Kuhn, particularly with deals Oakland Athletics owner Charles O.
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