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

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"What the 1960s were to America, the 1970s were to baseball, and Dan Epstein has finally given us the swinging book the '70s deserve."---Rob Neyer, Espn.com columnist and author of Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups

"If Jim Bouton's 1970 m...

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ITEM#: 12357594

DAN EPSTEIN has written for Rolling Stone, MOJO, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Time Out, produced shows for VH-1, and is the author of 20th Century Pop Culture. He lives in Southern California and is the Managing Editor of shockhound.com, the music website affiliated with the Hot Topic retail chain.

A Q&A with Dan Epstein courtesy of Scratchbomb.com, May 2010
As a kid, I was fascinated by 1970s baseball. The huge afros, the amazing facial hair, the retina-burning uniform designs--it seemed like such an insane, colorful era, particularly when compared to the heavily moussed 80s, where I spent most of my kid-dom. (Of course, there were some colorful characters then, too, but that's a tale for another time.)

Whenever I had some disposable income (which was not often), I would spend it at a baseball card convention or store, usually on a large plastic box filled with completely worthless cards from 1977 or 1975, just so I could savor such sartorial majesties as Willie McCovey's sideburns. My elementary school library had these slim books on each major league team, all published in the mid-'70s, which I borrowed repeatedly. And whenever my grampa took me to Cooperstown, I'd seek out the unbelievable mini-exhibit on the technicolor uniforms from those years (sadly, no longer there).

While there are some chronicles of players and teams from the 1970s (The Machine and Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning are great, recent examples), there haven't been many (if any) retrospectives about the decade in total. When people speak of a Golden Age of Baseball, they usually save such mythologizing for the 1950s and its stainless, sepia-tone heroes.

But now there is finally an evangelist for game as played in the Me Decade. Journalist Dan Epstein has penned a love letter to 1970s baseball entitled Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride through Baseball and America in the Swinging 70s. ESPN's Rob Neyer has said of this tome, "What the 1960s were to America, the 1970s were to baseball, and Dan Epstein has finally given us the swinging book the '70s deserve." The book drops May 25 from Thomas Dunne Books, and there will be a big ol' release party at the Bell House in Brooklyn on May 26 (I for one am excited to try the Oscar Gamble hot dog that will be served there).

Dan was generous enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and answer some questions via email about Astroturf, day-glo erseys, the best Topps card designs, and the worst promotions of all time. Read all about it after the jump.
What compelled you to write this book?

About ten years ago, I went in search of a good book on '70s baseball; I was born in 1966, so this was the era when I first fell in love with the sport, and I wanted to relive some of those memories, and maybe gain a greater understanding of the period. At the time, the only thing out there that came even close to what I was looking for was Phil Pepe's Talkin' Baseball: An Oral History of Baseball in the 1970s; but while that's a hi
"What the 1960s were to America, the 1970s were to baseball, and Dan Epstein has finally given us the swinging book the '70s deserve."---Rob Neyer, Espn.com columnist and author of Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups

"If Jim Bouton's 1970 memoir, Ball Four, was the book that showed what sex, drugs, and rock n' roll were doing to pro baseball, Epstein's Big Hair and Plastic Grass is the book that shows what that 1970s brand of baseball did to the rest of us. Only someone who loves America could write this book. This is an ESPN Classics trip right through the freaky heart of our national identity."---Dean Kuipers, Los Angeles Times

"If Roger Angell is baseball writing's perfectionist Tom Seaver, then Dan Epstein must be its irrepressible Dock Ellis. His irreverent prose pops like a Nolan Ryan fastball, rages like an Earl Weaver tirade, and is as memorably untamed as Oscar Gamble's Afro. Epstein lives and breathes baseball and pop culture with equal passion and intensity---and will make you care deeply about both."---Adam Langer, author of Crossing California and The Thieves of Manhattan

From Astroturf and free agency to garish polyester uniforms and World Series night games, baseball witnessed more changes during the turbulent 1970s than in all of its previous decades combined. While America endured the "Me Decade" that brought us Watergate, gas-station lines, and Studio 54, Hank Aaron and Lou Brock set new marks in power and speed: Roberto Clemente, Carlton Fisk, and Reggie Jackson astounded fans with their World Series heroics; and the eccentric antics of such players as Mark "The Bird" Fidrych and Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky were often matched (or even eclipsed) by controversial team owners such as Charlie O. Finley. Bill Veeck, and Ted Turner. Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" and the Oakland A's stood as contrasting dynasties ("the hairs vs. the squares"), while George Steinbrenner got things burning in the Bronx again, and the Pitts...

Specs

ISBN 9780312607548
Genre SPORTS & RECREATION / Baseball / History
Format Hardcover
Pages 340
Publisher Date 2010-05-25 00:00:00.0
Publisher Thomas Dunne Books
Copyright Year 2010
Height 9.5 in
Wdth 6.5 in
Thickness 1.5 in
Unit weight 1.25 lb
Language English
Subtitle A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s
Audience General/trade
Authors Epstein, Dan

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