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At it's best, "Big Hair and Plastic Grass" is a stimulating, succinct summary of the seventies. At it's worst, it's a salacious, slanted screed of same. The best parts make the book worthwhile, but they also display how good the book could have been. Some of my favorite parts were the chapter on uniforms, the account of the Bull's big heart and the description of Al Hrabosky stomping around like a bull. Unfortunately, that isn't all of the bull in the book. For example, we learn that the Reagans were responsible for the fading away of the afro, greed in baseball and PED's. This lack of balance is evident with the book's handling of many of the controversies it discusses like: Curt Flood vs. Judge Irving Ben Cooper, Pete Rose's hustle vs. egomania, Billy Martin vs. Jim Campbell (by the way, Campbell is sometimes incorrectly referred to as John Campbell), 1970's riots vs. 1980's riots, Faith Days vs. wet t-shirt contests and baseball played on mod sod in ashtrays vs. baseball played in Camden Yards. The author and I agree on The Bird, but, like the Bird, the book's bias leaves me longing for what might have been.
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on April 10, 2015
This book brought back many fun memories and taught me a lot that I never would have known. I would recommend it for a teenage fan who would enjoy learning about the insanity and fun of the decade. I have two gripes with the book. One is that it that there are often too many statistics (for me, that's possible). The other problem I had is that Epstein makes the Reagan eighties sound like the Hitler thirties. It's as if the election of Reagan meant that not only were the fun aspects of the 70's over, but a black pall descended over the United States, in general. I don't know what Epstein was doing during the 70's, but even as a child I remember the Nixon/Ford/Carter administrations as being miserable! The eighties allowed us to leave all of that behind and to start fresh. And, believe it or not, baseball was still fun in the 80's!
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on February 20, 2017
Dan Epstein gives readers a fun ride through baseball in the 1970's. Going year by year he highlights the best and worst performances in the Major League Baseball. It's not a recap bogged down by numbers but rather paints a colorful portrait of the numerous teams, players and issues that arise. He even writes about the social and literal changes of the game from the 1960s to today.

Even for someone like me that was not alive during the 1970s, Epstein does a great job creating a great mental picture while appealing to baseball fan's sentiment for the game of yesteryear. A fun read!
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on August 18, 2013
Obviously, these stories have been around for decades. They've been told in many other places. Mr. Epstein's perspective on them, however, is both unique and fascinating. The author's keen eye for both how baseball shaped and was shaped-by American culture before and during the 70's has produced a rewarding read with a narrative arc encompassing much more than afros and astroturf (although, I'm glad to say, plenty of both of those!) The political, social, economic, theatrical, and musical landscapes of the era all underwent large changes, and "Big Hair and Plastic Grass" does the task of highlighting those changes within the context of our then rapidly changing national pastime. Simultaneously, the decade on-field is given a thorough breakdown and the stats laid out bare remind the reader of what a unique era this was. Just looking at the ERAs and complete game numbers alone show how much the game has changed.

Still, the colorful characters and crazy times are (rightfully) the stars of the book, their stories always entertaining. In writing a book about any 10 years of baseball history (especially these 10!) I imagine there is a large challenge in deciding what to leave out. In choosing the players, owners, and stories he did, the author described a sport and a country connecting two very different eras with a funky streak more than deserving of its own spotlight. Highly recommended.

Note: I purchased the kindle version before a long flight as my neighborhood's independent bookseller didn't have any copies. Please note the kindle version doesn't have any photos.
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on July 30, 2017
This brought back so many memories. Epstein really captures the Era, in all its Afro haze and Disco Flamboyance. I can't wait for his next book.
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on March 5, 2017
Remembering all the good times of the swingin' 70's. Thanks Dan!
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on December 31, 2010
When contrasted with the baseball product trotted out on the field circa 2011, the decade of the 1970's stands out so vividly, so colorfully, and in many ways, so sadly that Dan epstein has scored a complete bullseye with his writing about baseball of this era.

The decade begins with a generation of authentic sluggers, and also the first generation of fully integrated black ballplayers finishing their careers. Players like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew who made massive contributions to their teams and to baseball with their focused and yeoman work.

As the decade moves on, this type of ballplayer gets eclipsed by a new breed of player and a new breed of owner, as well. The staid bluebloods of baseball, such as Walter O'Malley and Calvin Griffith get nudged aside for the charlie O. Finley's and the George Steinbrennner's. Each bring their own vision to the game, but the game begins to change.

The baseball characters, the flakes, like Bill Lee, the wildmen, like Gorman Thomas, and the cro-magnon, like Pete Rose are all part of the lovable history of this decade.

But, by contrast, the ballplayers of this era are button down, monotone, and in a word, dull.

The 1970's were a tumultuous time of change in baseball. Free-agency brought the end of the reserve clause, and cities rarely could call a ball player one of their own anymore. The change in the society brought some unforgettable stories every year, none more than the Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich wife and life swap. There were others. The losses of Roberto Clemente, Lyman Bostock and Thurman Munson. The ascendancy and quick letdown of Richie (call me Dick) Allen's career. Henry Aaron's assault on Babe Ruth's record, and Lou Brock's running to immortality.

Dan Epstien nails the ethos and pathos of this remarkable decade in baseball. If there is one fault I find with the book, it is in its' title. The title leads the reader to believe this book will be an Animal House treatise of baseball. It is not. It is a captive read, but thorough, and both comprehensive and incredibly enjoyable.
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For those of us who were baseball fans during the 1970s in many ways the events that took place seem like only yesterday when in reality several decades have passed. This book is a quick read. There really are no blockbuster revelations to be found. I certainly don't believe the book was meant to be a classic by any means, but the author does a good job in covering the decade in slightly more than 300 pages. We briefly relive the antics of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, revel in the shenanigans of Billy, George, Reggie, and the gang. Charley O. and the angry A's most certainly are included. Cincy's Big Red Machine, that classic game six of the '75 World Series is here as well. Free agency, flakes such as Bill Lee among others are well represented. With so much to cover author Dan Epstein understandably can't go into much detail.

If you remember this decade from baseball's rich history you will receive a summary of the events that took place, but understand that entire books have and will be written about the subjects I have listed above. I didn't find any factual, spelling, or grammatical errors in the book. I rate this book four stars because it does a good job in covering an entire decade of baseball history in a relatively short book, but it isn't a classic by any means nor I'm sure was it meant to be.
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on February 8, 2014
This is a really great book and is presented in a fun and funny style of writing. I wanted a book that would chronicle the decade and man did this book do the job. It is the best book on the era that I have read and really hits the nail on the head. I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down but did not either want it to end. Excellently researched and recall by Mr. Epstein it is a joy to read. What a great decade with so many characters and events to absorb. This one was fun - I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT TO BASEBALL FANS.
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on April 22, 2017
Not only is it a funky ride, but it's a literary barbershop where the subject is baseball -- and men's wild and crazy hair -- during The "Me" Decade.
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