Some baseball seasons seem to have their own personality. It could be the antics happening on the field or the drama that unfolds behind the scenes that keep certain seasons alive in the minds of fans for decades. The 70’s was a decade that was never short on excitement. Pick any year in that decade and something monumental was happening that helped shape the future of the game. 1973 was no different. The most historical feat was the introduction of the Designated Hitter. So monumental was it, that 45 years later we are still fighting over whether it is a good thing or not. Today’s book takes a look at year that gave use everything from the DH to a long goodbye to Willie Mays.
In the past couple years a few authors have taken on the task of picking a season from the 70’s and dissecting it. Silverman has no shortage of material to work with in 1973, that is for sure. From the introduction to the DH, the closing of original Yankee Stadium, the Miracle Mets and the wife swapping of Fritz Peterson are just a few of the points that made 1973 a spectacular season.
The author has done a nice job at looking at some of the important subjects of 1973, as mentioned above the implementation of the Designated Hitter, the painful farewell of Willie Mays and the Miracle Mets, the closing of original Yankee Stadium for remodeling, the Oakland A’s and their repeat winning of the division and of course last but not least new Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and his wife swapping pitchers. Silverman covered them all with accuracy and great detail, he has presented a story that was interesting and engaging and a good read for the average fan on these subjects.
The problem I has with this book is that there was more going on in 1973 than just these few subjects mentioned above. Hank Aaron was hot on the trail of Babe Ruth at that point. You were right in the middle of Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine. Roberto Clemente was killed right before the season started in a plane crash. So there was no shortage of big stories that were a factor in 1973. The author has mentioned some of these events in passing throughout the book, but nothing of any substantial merit, so I think he missed the boat there.
I understand the reasoning of why you would not want to spend any great amount of time talking about teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians, who were perennial bottom feeders in that era, but I think you would still want to address the full state of baseball if you were writing about one single season. There were so many different things going on that it would have enable the reader to get a much broader picture of what was truly happening in the game of baseball during 1973.
By far this is not a bad book. It covers the subjects it chooses to, very well. Silverman is thorough and puts a fun spin on the events of 73. He has created a good product that is definitely worth reading, just readers should be aware that it covers a few subjects very heavily, while passing over some of the events of that year of particular importance.
Perhaps I am just spoiled by books like Dan Epstein’s Stars and Strikes that covered the 1976 season, and now I hold all season books to that standard. I don’t think any fan with an interest in 1973 will be disappointed, I just think the author missed his chance to paint a much broader picture of the magic that was 1973.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Lyons Press
We all have a decade in baseball that we relate to the most. Maybe it’s because it’s where our personal knowledge base is the strongest. Perhaps it is the first decade we remember growing up, or it could be countless other reasons. For me the 1970’s is my favorite decade in recent past. It’s the first decade I remember growing up and it’s also the decade my Phillies had any measurable success. Because I like the 70’s so much I had a lot of hope for today’s book……..and it did not dissapoint!!!
Big Hair and Plastic Grass-A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swingin’ 70’s
By Dan Epstein 2010-Thomas Dunne Books
I know there have been other reviews of this book in the last few years on the internet. Usually, when there are a lot of good reviews I find they don’t actually live up to the hype but this book is different. It is actually as good as all the reviews say it is. It is a detailed and comprehensive overview of a turbulent decade in baseball.
The book dedicates a chapter to each year in this glorious decade, which you would figure it would do in a book dedicated to a single decade. What makes it more interesting, is in between years, the author drops in a topic that happened in the 70’s that changed the face of the game for more than one year. Things like the mass introduction of astro-turf, cookie cutter stadiums, afro’s, polyester uniforms and mascots. These things sometimes get overlooked in regards to when they began. Dan Epstein does a great job of bringing all these things into perspective as to when they did burst on to our scene.
Dan Epstein, from what I have read, has a very diverse background as far as what he writes. He did a great job of bringing baseball history to life. He also did a great job of analyzing how society fits into the baseball lure. I think he has a personal appreciation of this decade and it comes through in his writing. I almost feel he likes the 70’s so much that he would enjoy riding around in Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine. He seems like a fun guy.
Overall if you enjoy the 70’s,this is a great book. You will really enjoy re-living each year and seeing how much changed in only ten short years. Dan Epstein did a really great job with this book and his since published Stars and Strikes about just the 1976 season. I am really looking forward to that book to see how he follows this one up.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Thomas Dunne Books and I believe you can get autographed copies direct from the author as well.