Major League Baseball in the 1970s

A Modern Game Emerges

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About the Book

Many of the most powerful trends in baseball today have their roots in the 1970s. Baseball entered that decade seriously behind the times in race relations, attitudes toward conformity versus individuality, and the manager-player relationship. In a sense, much of the wrenching change that American society as a whole experienced in the 1960s was played out in baseball in the following decade. Additionally, the game itself was rapidly evolving, with the inauguration of the designated hitter rule in the American League, the evolution of the closer, the development of the five-man starting rotation, the acceptance of strikeout lions like Dave Kingman and Bobby Bonds and the proliferation of stolen bases.
This book opens with a discussion of the challenges that faced baseball’s movers and shakers when they gathered in Bal Harbour, Florida, for the annual winter meetings on December 2, 1969. Their worst nightmares would be realized in the coming years. For many and often contradictory reasons the 1970s game evolved into a war of competing ideologies—escalating salaries, an acrimonious strike, Sesame Street-style team mascots, and the breaking of the time-honored tradition that all players, including the pitcher, must play on offense as well as defense—that would ultimately spell doom for the majority of attendees.

About the Author(s)

The late Joseph G. Preston lived in Apple Valley, California.

Bibliographic Details

Joseph G. Preston
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 412
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1592-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8405-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction: December 2, 1969      5
1. Curt Flood, the Man Who Fought the Law      13
2. From the Literary Corner, Ball Four      21
3. The Coming of the Sterile Ashtrays      25
4. The Man Who Gave His Body to Baseball      33
5. The Angry Men      37
6. The End of the Age of Innocence      50
7. The Pride of Westchester High      61
8. Charlie Finley’s Big Happy Family      66
9. On the Origins of the DH Rule      77
10. Bobby Bonds and the Ghost of Baseball Future      86
11. Henry Aaron, Race, and the Record      92
12. The Ten-Cent Beer Fiasco      102
13. The End of the Fireballer Epoch      105
14. Steve Carlton’s Sounds of Silence      117
15. Messersmith and McNally: The Guys Who Fought the Law and Won      121
16. The Potential Immortality of Marvin Miller      133
17. The Big Red Machine and the End of an Era      136
18. Pete Rose in Full Bloom      144
19. The Rotation Revolution      147
20. Consistency and Wit in the Shadows      157
21. The Evolution of the Bullpen      160
22. The Aborted Sale of Vida Blue      173
23. A Paradox in Action      183
24. The Commissioner      187
25. The Bird      197
26. George Steinbrenner’s New Economics      200
27. Rod Carew and Ted Williams—Style Greatness      210
28. Contending on the Cheap      214
29. Bill Veeck’s South-Side Wreck      226
30. Vern Rapp and Management 101      237
31. Steve Garvey and the Essence of Fame      247
32. Being Without a Chair When the Music Stops      253
33. The Stolen Base Revival      265
34. Dave Kingman: Master of the Homer and the Big Breeze      274
35. Power to the Umpires      279
36. The Roman Umpire      291
37. Willie Stargell and the Evolution of the African American Player      296
Epilogue: August 9, 1979      303
Chapter Notes      313
Bibliography      383
Index      393

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Choice Outstanding Academic Title
  • “Splendid…this volume clicks…Preston has written the book (and the endnotes) in a deliciously engaging manner, without lapsing into cuteness or pretentiousness. Go for it. Essential”—Choice