Read Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s by Dan Epstein Online


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 founThe 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....

Title : Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250007247
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 340 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s Reviews

  • Ed Wagemann
    2019-03-20 15:35 don’t know what happened during the 1980s that ruined the two great passions of my childhood life—major league baseball and classic rock—but somehow shortly after I blossomed into a teenager my passion for each of them slowly and sorrowfully fizzled. I had just turned 13 years old when the Major League’s players went on strike—1981—and I immediately had this very raw “screw them” epiphany. By 1984 I had no real interest in major league baseball what so ever. I had stopped collecting baseball cards and obsessing over the league leaders and box scores in the Sunday paper, I couldn’t sit through an inning of watching a ball game on TV anymore and I soon found myself just channel surfing right past the highlight reels on ESPN. And on the rare occasion that I actually found myself at a major league ball game, I’d sit there interested in anything but the actual game; the guy selling peanuts, some large breasted woman three rows up, a cloud… Even when I consciously tried to focus on the game, after two or three pitches, I’d just think to myself, “What’s the frickin point?” Not just the point of watching the game, but what’s the frickin point of major league baseball in general? The broadcasters regurgitated one cliché after another, the players seemed like robots. The fans seemed ridiculous, with their puppet-like reactions of anger and/or rehearsed celebrations. Maybe I should have just blamed it all on Reagan and let it go at that. Fast forward 20 some odd years to the summer of 2010 when one day, having taken a strange and mysterious journey to my local suburaban library, I came me upon Dan Epstein’s book Big Hair And Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ‘70s - The cover of which promised a treasures trove of interesting anecdotes, funny details and witty insight. Besides great images of Oscar Gamble and Mark "the bird" Fydrich, the cover also sported a retro design that instantly conjures up the distinct 1970s vibe. But even as the title and sub-title promised a funky ride through the baseball landscape of the swingingest decade, I proceeded with caution for as I’ve been burned before by cover promises and stylized illustrations. Then, as always, I look to the book’s back jacket to get an image of author. There I see Epstein - dressed as hipster wannabe, complete with 70s side burns, a height-ashbury jean jacket, and a coolier-than-tho smirk. Then taking a bite out of his introduction, at first it seems as though Epstein might actually delivery on his big promises when he acknowledges the disparity between Major League baseball in the 1970s and Major League baseball post-70s when he writes: “In recent years, for example, the Atlanta Braves have held a ‘Faith Day’ promotion, featuring performances by Christian rock bands and testimonials from Braves players about how Jesus turned their lives around. This is same team that, back in 1977, drew more than 27,000 fans for a ‘Wet T-Shirt Night’ competition.” Well shit, this might just be the book I've been hoing for. Unfortuneately as I read on, it didnt take long to realize that this book was more style than substance. The large part of Epstein's text is year by year summaries of how teams won their divisions, who the stat leaders on the teams were, with a few seasonal and individual game high lights mixed in, which all goes to read like a 3rd year college journalism student covering the local college team. At the begining of each chapter Epstein tried very hard to shoe horn pop culture into the baseball landscape. I'm not sure what the point of that was other than try to add some kind of context but it came off as Epstein wanting to be considered an expert on 70s culture so that he might be asked by the producers of VH1's "I heart the 70s" so that he could contribute witty comments about slinkys or moon boots.About halfway through, I began skipping around a bit. Then a bit more. There were some interesting narrative possibilities, but Epstein only touched the surface and gave the cliche wikipedia-ish treatment to them, and not much else.By the time I got to 1978 I was looking at maybe two words per paragraph until I finally just gave up. The most disappointing thing here, is that I DO believe that the subject matter is worthy of a book. A good book even. Possibly something in the tradition of an oral telling along the lines of Loose Balls (about the American Basketball Association) where we have the stories told directly to us from the mouths of the players, owners, coaches, managers, umps, anouncers, etc themselves. Overall I give it 3 out of 5 WagemannHeads. I think Epstein could have done more with the wealth of material than what is here.

  • Hugh McBride
    2019-03-21 10:46

    Have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed by "Big Hair & Plastic Grass." As a child of the 70s, and one whose earliest baseball memories involve the Cleveland Indians' "blood clot" uniforms, the hirsute Swingin' A's, & the Big Red Machine, I was prepared to really enjoy this walk through this bizarre decade. And Epstein does hit all the touchstones of 70's baseball (10-Cent Beer Night, the White Sox in short pants, the Bronx Zoo, Dock on acid, Bird Fidrych, etc.) But this book too often feels more like a rote retelling of history than a deep dive into twisted times. The best historical works give the reader a "you were there" sensation - not only covering the who/what/where, but also capturing the personality (and personalities) of the day. To this reader, Epstein does an admirable job with the facts, but comes up short on bringing those facts to life.If you know nothing of major league baseball in the 1970s, you will be educated by this year-by-year recounting of the game -- and you will likely be amazed by some of the characters & events that made the decade as memorable as it was. But for those who either lived through or have already read about this period, there's not much new here.

  • Tom Gase
    2019-03-11 11:41

    A great read on baseball in the '70s! I knew I would probably like this book, but was suprised by how much. The writer has a perfect format, at least for me, and I loved reading this to the point where I probably read it too fast.The author, Dan Epstein, has an introduction and then instead of going all over the place, divides his chapters into years of about 25-30 pages each. So 1970 had a whole chapter dedicated to it. 1971 had a whole chapter decided to it and so on and so on. There is about three to four breaks after two chapters focused on years that discuss things from the weird uniforms, astroturf, weird celebrations and styles of afros and beards people wore.I should have just read a chapter a night for this book and listened to some music in the background from each year (example- Dark Side of the Moon for 1973, Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffitti for 1975, Who's Next for 1971, The Clash's first album for 1977) but it was so good I finished it in about five to six days.I like how the author tells about someone who had a good year and then to back it up puts in quotation marks their batting average, home runs, RBI, steals etc). Book really flowed well as it doesn't go into the labor situation with Marvin Miller and Curt Flood for that long but does talk about it.I was born in 1977 and don't remember any of the baseball that occured in this book except for replays but it was a good read and I felt I was watching all this stuff for the first time. I hope Epstein reads this and decides to do a book in the same style on the 80's since I grew up watching baseball during that era. I recommend for any baseball fan.

  • Justin Tappan
    2019-02-24 12:41

    Fantastic.I cut my baseball teeth in the 1970's, so this was a no-brainer. Intertwining on and off-field happenings, this book paints a candid and often loopy portrait of a crazy time in America and in baseball.A lot of memories came flooding back as I read this. Games I remembered seeing. On-field characters I'd forgotten. In addition, I learned a lot of things about the era that I hadn't known.Guess what? Pete Rose and Reggie Jackson were huge a**holes. We all knew that. But I didn't know the extent to which the Yankees clubhouse was a disaster of infighting and battling egos. I also didn't know that a player I loved as a kid was a sexist a** in addition to being a clown. Did you know Steve Garvey's teammates hated him as much as everyone outside L.A. did? Read this book to uncover a wealth of baseball information you weren't aware that you needed to know.If you're a baseball nerd like me, you'll love this book. If you're a child of the 70's? It's that much better.

  • Noah
    2019-02-19 09:39

    This book reads like Epstein's research notes. Rather than do the author's task of finding an interesting STORY to tell and being selective about what he includes, he just dumps everything he can find in a big pile for you in chronological order. He doesn't identify a lot of themes, he doesn't focus too closely on any characters, he really doesn't cause you to care about anyone in the book, and at times you're just reading a list of stats and award winners and game results. This book drove me nuts, because the source material is great, full of colorful characters and events, but Epstein couldn't seem to edit it down in the slightest.

  • Lance
    2019-02-19 15:36

    Review:A franchise moves halfway across the country after only one season in the Pacific Northwest. A controversial book describing the antics of baseball players off the field. Those are two of the events in baseball in 1970, setting the table for an entertaining and interesting decade for the sport. The book is broken into chapters for each year 1970-1979 with a few extras on topics such as hair styles and uniforms. The baseball season recaps are quite informative and well researched. Not every detail is included, such as you don’t see the listing of individual award winners listed each year, but there are recaps of the season for each of the four division winners, other teams that played significant roles in the season and then brief recaps of the League Championship Series followed by a detailed account of that year’s World Series. None of these are written in great detail, but with enough so that the reader will get a good feel of what it was like to be watching that championship series. Whether it was the 1971 Series that introduced night games and saw the Pirates become the first team to come back from being down three games to one, or the 1977 Series in which Reggie Jackson hit three homers on three pitches, it is all covered in this book. If there was a problem with the baseball coverage with this book, I thought that some of the best moments or performances were ignored or omitted in favor of giving more information on only the teams that were contenders. As an example, there is no mention of Rod Carew at all in the 1977 chapter when he had one of the best individual seasons of the decade with a .388 average, the highest at that time in over 30 years and was the American League MVP. Another omission was when Mike Marshall became the first player in to lead both the American and National Leagues in pitching appearances. His record 106 appearances with the Dodgers in 1974 is mentioned in that chapter, but his 90 appearances for the Twins in 1979 to set the record in that league is not mentioned. However, there is more than just baseball covered in this book. Using the game as a background, many political and social issues of that time are discussed as well. As an example, to illustrate the “sexual revolution” of the times, a story of two pitchers who swapped wives is included in the book. The fashion tastes of the decade are covered in a chapter about the uniforms worn by various teams. As a personal note, I must admit that one of my favorite jerseys of all time is called hideous, among other terms, by the author. That jersey is the “rainbow” jersey of the Houston Astros. Ah, well, guess I can’t agree with him on everything, right? As a whole, this book was very entertaining and great stroll down memory lane as I recalled many of the stories and games described. Some of the social commentary was informative for me as well, especially in the early part of the decade as I was a kid at the time and didn’t fully understand the significance. Whether you were a fan at the time or just would like to learn more about that interesting decade, this book is a good read. Did I skim?No. Pace of the book: Excellent. I moved quickly through each chapter, whether it was a baseball chapter or one on a different topic.Do I recommend? Yes. All baseball fans, regardless of age, will enjoy this look back at that decade. Fans who followed the game will love remembering the stories and those who were not around then will be entertained at the comparison between the eras in both baseball and American society as a whole.Book Format Read:E-Book (Nook)

  • Jim Kulhawy
    2019-02-28 09:37

    I first came upon this book one rainy Saturday in my local Borders. After thumbing through in the aisle, I knew that I would have to read it. Surprisingly, it was given to me as a present a few weeks later and I have loved every page. Baseball, prior to the 1970's, was a button down, lunch bucket game that always seemed to have a very wholesome, clean cut, "Cleaver family" quality. But, the 1970's ushered in a whole different scene that one had to live through to truely appreciate. Whether it was the inception of Astro Turf, the off the wall afros worn by players like Oscar Gamble, the rediculously ugly, pajama-like, uniforms of the Houston Astros, the Kansas City Royals or the Pittsburgh Pirates, the ugly softball shorts of the Chicago White Sox. or the counter-culture "icons" such as Bill "The Spaceman" Lee or the Pirates Dock Ellis, the 70's were a time unlike anything seen before, or since. As a kid, growing up and learning to love baseball, in the 1970's, this book was a return to my childhood and all the memories that I have of growing up and associating with the decade. My very first memories such as watching Hank Aaron break Babe Ruth's HR record with my dad and going to my first ever game (Yankees Vs Indians, helmet day, at Shea, where the Yanks were playing while The Stadium was being remodeled), both in 1974. I distinctly remember Chris Chambliss' blast that gave the Yankees the 1976 AL Pennant and the subsequent ass kicking the Big Red Machine gave them. 1977 brought my favorite team their first World Series Championship since 1962, while 1978 saw me helplessly badgered bythe dreaded Red Sox fans in the neighborhood, only to have a light hitting shortstop turn the tables on them in October. In 1979, I was hoping for a three peat, but had my heart broken one August evening by the 10 PM news incredulously telling me one of my favorite players had, tragically, died in an airplane crash.This book is a must read for anyone who grew up loving baseball in the 1970's. It's all here, "The Swingin' A's", "The Bronx Zoo", "The Southside Hitmen", handlebar moustaches, long hair and sideburns, players named Catfish, Gator, Knucksie, Goose, The Cobra, Pudge, Spaceman, El Tiante and Puff, uniforms that looked like a tequila sunrise, a bloody mary and a giant pumpkin as well as the characters that made it such a great decade. Pick it up, sit back and take a trip down memory lane to Disco Demolition Night, 10 Cent Beer Night, and relive a wilder, crazier, youthful time. You will not be sorry, I promise...

  • L.C. Fiore
    2019-03-04 08:27

    It's not that this book isn't a fun romp through the craziness that was 1970s baseball--I laughed out loud several times, and came across a few anecdotes I'd never heard before. Still, too much of this book is a blow-by-blow account of the decade as it happened. There's little analysis or background or anything you couldn't learn on It's clear the author researched a ton, and there are some nice gems pulled from players' autobiographies, but in the end this book is really little more than a surface-deep glance at what was otherwise a really important decade for the sport. For example, although the advent of Free Agency is mentioned several times, the author spends more time discussing the extra-marital affairs of Pete Rose than he does talking about Pete Rose as a free agent, when Rose, wined and dined and flown around the country by interested teams, really set the precedent for all free agents to come (and permanently changed the sport). It's a glaring omission. The stats in the book are also half-heartedly cited and oftentimes irrelevant--sometimes they seem to be included out of context in order for the author to make a point, rather than because they're actually important or because they signify something. It doesn't have to be a "stat" book... but if you're going to include stats at all, at least include the right ones. And make sure they're in context.For a more in-depth look at the 1970s, I'd recommend Joe Posnanski's "The Machine" and Roger Kahn's "October Men." Still, this book did make me remember how much I miss those old Astros uniforms! Which maybe, after all, was its only purpose.

  • Rodney
    2019-02-26 15:34

    Every so often a book comes along that tells a story and brings back a rush of memories. This would be one of those books. I related to this book and author on so may levels. First, he's the same age I am so we grew up watching the same baseball. Second, he grew up and Michigan and talked about attending games at Tiger stadium and nailed the whole experience of Detroit baseball in the 70's.This book explains how baseball transformed from the 60's into the 80's. The stolen base was important, the DH raised offense, artificial term caused the game to be played different, and finally the rise of the cookie cutter stadium.Just great stories as each season is broken down into highlights intermixed with decade trending. I still believe that we are living in baseballs golden time. The game is represented by the best players all over the world. Racial discrementation has turned into who can help us win. Each team with the exception of the Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, Cubs, Tampa and Florida all play in brand new state of the art stadiums. This is a great time to be a fan.For me, none of that would have been impossible without learning the game in the ear this book explains. Also, for the record, I have the Oscar Gamble 'fro Topps baseball card.

  • bamlinden
    2019-03-04 09:41

    I discovered this book at the same time I discovered author Dan Epstein. Journalist, pop-culture historian and baseball fan, his style and enjoyment of both the game of baseball and the characters who play it are evident in his Twitter feed. I saw this title at the library, took one look at the stunning afro Oscar Gamble was sporting and said "Let's go!"I enjoyed this book a lot. Some great stories about players I vaguely remember or have heard in historical context. Short anecdotes blending nicely with the hard stats. The transformation of the game throughout the 70's would definitely go down as the most dramatic of any decade before or since. And Epstein hits most of the major points. Humour plays a big part of the read and is certainly worthy of it. Some truly outlandish stories......many almost unbelievable. Where the title falls short is in the redundancy of the stats. I almost felt like skimming over them at times so I could get to the real stories of each year documented. I don't always need to know each team's top hitters and pitchers with accompanying line stats. Overall though, Big Hair and Plastic Grass is a very fun read to those who like their 70's baseball, a funky era or loud characters.

  • Spiros
    2019-02-23 08:35

    Yes, I absolutely hate Astroturf, especially in cookie-cutter, multi-use stadiums. Sure, brightly hued doubleknit Softball uniforms offend my innermost aesthetic sensibilities. And it goes without saying that a grown man wearing a bizarre, oversized costume, engaging the crowd in fevered antics (the wiener race at Milwaukee Brewers' games notwithstanding) arouse all my baser instincts. Despite all this, I unreservedly love '70's Major League Baseball. Mainly, it's the outsized characters that populated the clubhouses and front offices during the decade, not to mention the inspired play that took place on the ersatz diamonds of the era. Epstein provides a highly entertaining overview of the decade, with special sidebar articles on various aspects of the Game alternating with summaries of each year. Basically, what we have is a book-sized version of the '70's chapter of Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract, not quite as incisive or well written as the Master, but definitely worthwhile.

  • Tommy Carlson
    2019-02-26 07:45

    This is really two books in one. Unfortunately, I only liked one of the two books.It's supposed to be about all the weird and wonderful things that happened in baseball in the 70s. And that describes about half the book. And it is, indeed, fascinating reading. I loved this aspect of the bookAlas, the other half is all boring statistics. And then this team won the pennant behind so-and-so hitting something-something-something. I found myself skimming the stats, slowing down when I saw actual descriptive text.Part of the problem is the organization. It's broken into years, with a few topic-specific chapters mixed in.The whole thing should have been by topic, tracing each topic through the years. In particular, the Billy Martin material should have been blocked together instead of making me pick it out of each year.So, if you don't mind skimming the boring bits, and paying full price for half a book, it's a great read.And if you like reading stats, then you'll probably love the whole thing.

  • Phil
    2019-02-27 08:48

    A swing and a miss. Probably should be rated a one star for the poor quality writing, but it was fun to reminisce about the 70s when my biggest passion was baseball. Epstein delivers names, dates, stats and scandal. However, he cannot tell a story (or is too lazy to try). It is obvious that he sat down with a decade's worth of Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Time and Newsweek; took copious notes and then rearranged those notes into a book. It just falls flat. Epstein also relies completely on secondary sources, he never even tries to get his own interviews with the 70s icons. He just plops in random quotes from articles that were written four decades ago. That amounts to shoddy history, shoddy journalism and a shoddy book. Despite attempting to weave pop culture into the re-telling of 70s baseball, there is no pop, no sizzle. And in the end, we have a dreary, slog of a read. Epstein is apparently about my age and he lived through the 70s just like I did, but one could never believe that by reading this book.

  • Tad
    2019-03-09 13:43

    Of all of Dan Epstein's credits listed on the dustjacket, the most apt one for this book is that he's penned liner notes for a several bands. This book is a relentless bunch of liner notes thrown together as a book. I wound up just skimming it looking for the fun anecdotes and skipping all of the history with which he bogs down the book. He needed a far better editor and structural idea. That said, I loved some of the little stories, like how Glenn Burke met Dusty Baker at home plate with both hands in the air in a 1975 or 76 game and Baker slapped them both, thus creating the high five. I'd known many of these stories, like that one, but it was fun to revisit them. But in the end, every story in the book gets short shrift, and therefore none are more important than others, and there is no narrative. But if you want to re-experience the 70s in baseball because you were there, and I grew up with 70s baseball, the trip back is fun. Just don't read it like a book. Skim it.

  • Fred
    2019-02-23 13:28

    I have to give this four stars with a caveat: if you grew up loving baseball in the 70s you will love most everything about this book. If you do not care about either baseball or the 70s, well, don't read this. It will bore you to tears. But I loved it. All the main characters are here: the Oakland Swinging A's, the Big Red Machine, The Bronx Zoo, the "We Are Family" Pirates. Each year is chronicled in a separate chapter with a few extras thrown in on uniforms, stadiums and impending free-agency. It is a shameless journey down nostalgia lane, but it also reminds the reader of some of the stranger aspects of baseball in the 70's. For example, the fans has crazy access to the field back then. People were forever running onto the field, streaking or ripping up turf. Also, the modern notion of "promo-night" started in this decade. Also it is easy to forget how good some players really were, like Dick Allen and Vida Blue. All in all an enjoyable look back.

  • Buzz
    2019-02-26 14:25

    Made the 2012 baseball season bearable and made a great gift. This is not only an outstanding baseball book, this is, as advertised, a funky ride through America in the swinging '70s. For those of us who loved baseball and came of age during that decade, it all seemed normal. I ranged from 1st grade to freshman year of high school in that decade. Only through time, social and personal perspective, do I have a sense of the sheer freakiness of that time: Vietnam and race riot angst, the hairs vs. the squares, crazy fads and fun. Epstein's book is not only informative and nostalgic about the way those times were reflected on and off the field and in the stands, it's a well-written and essential journal of pop culture and social history. This is definitely a multi-tool prospect with a plus plus fastball and curve, to go with a great change up and offensive power to all fields. The season is a marathon and yet it ends too fast.

  • Oliver Bateman
    2019-02-22 15:32

    A clever, interesting book that promises far more than it delivers. Epstein's interstitial sections about afros, astroturf, and uniforms are excellent, but his season summaries (which constitute the bulk of the book) are uneven. Although thoroughly readable, these parts dwell too much on results, scores, and gameplay--subject matter covered more eloquently in Roger Angell's summaries of those same years. When Epstein does choose to highlight interesting seasonal anecdotes, such as Dodgers OF Glenn Burke's homosexuality or Billy Martin's womanizing, the book soars. When he doesn't, it's just more of the "Fisk hit a 2-2 pitch deep into the stands at Fenway" that I've read before. Why couldn't he have given us two or three more clever essays about the style of the game during this period?

  • Theo Logos
    2019-02-21 11:22

    A fun book about my favorite baseball decade - the decade I became a fan. It hits all the high/low/freaky points of baseball in the '70s, a decade that saw the first World Series night game, the rise of the relief pitcher, the DH rule in the American League, and the beginning of free agency. If you aren't a baseball fan, or have no interest in the funky '70s, you can probably take a pass on this book. But if you were a kid who grew up to love the game with the Mustache Gang A's, the Big Red Machine, the Bronx Zoo Yankees, and the We Are Family Pirates; if you loved Mark the Bird Fidrych, and thought Dock Ellis and his LSD No No were the coolest, then you will enjoy this quick read of a book.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-25 07:20

    As a baseball fan born in the mid-70's, who came back to it later in life (fan as a child and now I'm back) I found this to be an enjoyable book with some great history about the game in the 70's. Baseball, like the world, was going through some major changes and many of these came to a head in this era. The book is largely split between anecdote style chapters and recap chapters. Personally, I liked the anecdote chapters much better. The recap chapters were great from an historical perspective but I felt that they delved too much into player stats that were not relevant. For those who love memorizing player stats and recalling them during heated baseball discussions, this may be of use. Overall an enjoyable read about baseball in the 70's.

  • John
    2019-03-07 07:36

    Entertaining pop history (don't expect Roger Angell meditations here) of baseball in the 70's. The book generally alternates between two kinds of chapters -- one recounting a particular year, the other a topical chapter. Needless to say, the recaps are a little drier (stats are thrown about). My favorite chapter recounted the crazy promotions during that era, including 10 cent beer night (Indians) and Disco Demolition (Chisox).My own recollection of that era of baseball is dim (I rarely lived near a big league city during that period), but I enjoyed reminiscing about the Steinbrenner-Martin-Jackson feuds, the Big Red Machine, and especially the San Diego Chicken. I loved the Chicken--no mascot has ever topped him.

  • John Nellis
    2019-02-23 14:30

    This book brought back a lot of memories and many of the great plays and players of the 70's came back to life. I thought Dan Epstein did a very good job telling the stories and recalling the times of baseball during the 1970's. I felt his summaries of key games and events to be very good. I liked reading about the heroes and villains of baseball I knew growing up. I attended my first baseball games in 1976. One of which Mark "the bird" Fidrych pitched. This decade and the 80's are my favorite eras of baseball. Reggie Jackson was my favorite player. If you want a stroll down memory lane or to learn something new about baseball in the 70'S this is a good book. I very much enjoyed the narrative and wished he had written an account of the 80's as well ,as I finished the last page.

  • Dominic
    2019-02-25 08:34

    This book is a bit stat heavy for the average baseball fan. Epstein has a tendency to read as though he is listing stats rather than telling the story of baseball in the 1970s. As an avid baseball fan, though, statistics are necessary as baseball clings to them like no other sport. With its large amount of statistics, the book lacks in actual stories of the 70s. When Epstein tells stories of quirky players and their off field antics, he barely traces it back to America, which the title suggests. He does show that the players reflected America, but does not go into if baseball changed American in the 1970s. He often brushes by key events in the U.S. in the 70s without much detail.For the statistic crazed fan it is great, but the casual fan may not have as fun of a time with this book.

  • Pete
    2019-03-19 09:23

    fun but formulaic. there are some great bits here and there -- like i had no idea the tigers had a centerfielder named ron leflore who was actually a real-life ricky vaughn (discovered playing in a prison league) who stole 450+ bases in his career, or that a star astros pitcher died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, or that luis tiant had a custom made afro toupee. but for every good tidbit there is 10 pages of paint-by-numbers season recap and rote quotation of statistics with no interpretation. could definitely have been 80 pages shorter just by cutting some of the repetitive game recaps.

  • Michael Terry
    2019-02-22 09:32

    Although a quick and generally enjoyable read, the accounting for each team for every year covered and listing of statistics is pretty cumbersome after a while. The more enjoyable sections are specialized chapters such as "Ashtrays and Astroturf" and "Rows, 'Fros, Anything Goes" which discuss the evolution of a specific topic (uniforms, stadiums, etc.) throughout baseball in the 1970's. The yearly summaries (and they read much like summaries, unfortunately) provide some good anecdotes awash in the previously-mentioned statistics talk. At the end of the day, however, I did learn a lot about Major League Baseball in the 1970's.

  • Tgaylord
    2019-03-03 07:35

    I've seen reviews marking this down because it's merely a pretty straightforward rehash of baseball from 1970 to 1979 with only marginal comment on baseball's effect (or the effect on baseball) of the culture at large. With that assessment I basically agree, thus my 4-stars is probably biased by the fact that I love baseball, I started paying attention to it during the last 2 seasons of the Seventies (the 1978 World Series is the first that I have recollections of watching), and I'm familiar with the cast of characters. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read then, despite the fact that perhaps many people could have written the same book.

  • Bradley
    2019-03-14 15:26

    A raucous, excellent read that not only touches on the fun stylistic flourishes (iris-incinerating, double-knit uniforms, Astroturf, Afros, etc.) but also the serious aspects / social turmoil (free agency, the belated arrival of '60s political consciousness, the DH) that made the 70s such a pivotal epoch in the history of baseball. Epstein is fun-loving and astute--definitely someone you'd like to sit next to at the ballpark for an afternoon. Plus, it really made me wish I had been present for both Disco Demolition Night and 10-Cent Beer Night. Crazy!

  • Diener
    2019-03-12 07:21

    When Spring Training rolls around each year, I head to the local library and pick up a baseball book. Usually I'm not disappointed in my selection. Not that I was disappointed this time, but I was certainly underwhelmed with what I though to be a promising read. A few interesting anecdotes sprinkled throughout, but quite a few stories I've heard before. Neatly packaged rundowns of each season. Well-researched, but distinctly missing the primary sources that would inject this book with a little more umpf.

  • Johanna Rupprecht
    2019-03-04 10:40

    This was an interesting book, but I preferred Epstein's more engaging follow-up, Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of '76, which I read earlier. Big Hair and Plastic Grass is definitely a good overview of '70's baseball history, but doesn't really seem to have enough space to dig very deeply into particular stories or themes. I did learn from it, though. There are also bits of general pop culture history sprinkled in, but I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone other than pretty serious baseball people.

  • Mike McPadden
    2019-02-24 10:38

    Too trippy and colorful a topic to completely botched but, in spots, it feels like Epstein's going to give it the old screw-up try. I loved the players, loved the era, groaned when the author hopped the guard rail and hurled himself onto the narrative field and forces the action through the "Don't forget I'm a liberal big-time BOOK author" sieve. Case in point: at the end, Epstein thanks Dock Ellis for teaching him how to "let my freak flag fly." Yeah—super-freaky, no doubt. Still: this is the funkadelic 70s baseball book, and it could reek worse.

  • Matthew Silverman
    2019-02-18 15:18

    A great tour of a great time we won't see again. Players had style and something to prove in an era where free agency was coming in and the staid baseball mentality was coming apart. The uniforms were fun, the stadiums gargantuan, the pitchers threw inside, and speed was still a big part of the game. Epstein hits the right combination of stories about teams and individuals, along with plenty of tangents on everyone from Dock Ellis to Tommy John. Was a little sad when the book--and the 1970s--came to an end.