Swinging '73: The Incredible Year Baseball Got the Designated Hitter, Wife-Swapping Pitchers, and Willie Mays Said Goodbye to America

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Overview


In 1973, new rules changed baseball, and three legendary teams thrived by playing by their own rules.

 
Interest and attendance were dropping, and football was ascending. Stuck in a rut, baseball was sinking. Then George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, a second-division relic with wife-swapping pitchers, leaving the House That Ruth Built not with a slam but a simper. He vowed not to interfere—and then did just that. Across town, Tom Seaver led the Mets’ stellar pitching ...

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Swinging '73: Baseball's Wildest Season

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Overview


In 1973, new rules changed baseball, and three legendary teams thrived by playing by their own rules.

 
Interest and attendance were dropping, and football was ascending. Stuck in a rut, baseball was sinking. Then George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees, a second-division relic with wife-swapping pitchers, leaving the House That Ruth Built not with a slam but a simper. He vowed not to interfere—and then did just that. Across town, Tom Seaver led the Mets’ stellar pitching line-up, and iconic outfielder Willie Mays was preparing to say goodbye. But for months, Yogi Berra’s boys couldn’t get it right. Meanwhile, across the country, maverick owner Charlie O. Finley was fighting to keep the hirsute A’s underpaid.

But beyond the muttonchops and mayhem lay another world. Elvis commanded a larger audience than the Apollo landings. A Dodge Dart cost $2,800, and gas 38 cents per gallon. Vietnam had ended, the vice president resigned, Watergate had taken over, and a fiscal crisis loomed. It was one of the most exciting years in baseball history, the first with the designated hitter and the last before arbitration and free agency. The two World Series opponents went head-to-head above the baby steps of a juggernaut that soon dwarfed both league champions. It was a turbulent time for the country and the game, neither of which would ever be the same again.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

An American Profile Editor’s Pick
A Special Libraries Association Baseball Caucus Readers’ Choice Award Finalist

"A fantastic ode to a year that began with the Yankees wife-swap and ended with the Mets’ second miracle."
New York Post

"Silverman sets his sights on one of the sport’s greatest, most dramatic, and colorful seasons ever, a go-go moment in pop-cultural time. ... Swinging ’73 is a sharp, finely detailed, engrossingly entertaining snapshot of a country and its national pastime, both grooving along—though not always smoothly—to the beat of a new era."
American Profile

"Swinging ’73 chronicles the ups and downs, the ins and outs of one of pro baseball’s most exciting years ever, and it does it in casual, breezy style. .. It comes highly recommended to all baseball fans. Mets and A’s fans looking to recapture the glory days of those franchises will particularly enjoy leafing through its pages, but anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in the annals of baseball lore will find Swinging ’73 to be the perfect kind of read: a fastball right down the plate."
—Bleacher Report

"One of the most entertaining new baseball books of the spring."
Hardball Times

"Silverman provides a sprinkling of cultural touchstones that permeated 1973 America. Vietnam, the Watergate hearings, and Roe v Wade, vital moments in our history, indeed. But we are also reminded of Maude, Billie Jean King, and Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, passed out on animal tranquilizers and brandy. Swinging ’73 is entertaining, irreverent, and fun. The book takes nothing serious yet is serious as hell. It is only a game but it is our game, our memories, our lives… 'Ya Gotta Believe!'"
Spitball magazine

"A delightful paperback."
—New York Sports Day

"Silverman has done it again, delivering another amazing book that should be a part of every Met fan’s library. This isn’t your regular everyday telling of the “Ya Gotta Believe” season. ... Fascinating ... Silverman sucks you right in with his timeless writing style, and I know many of you will flip through each chapter in one sitting—which is the true sign of a great story. I encourage all of you to grab a copy for yourselves!"
—MetsMerized Online

"Fascinating ... highly recommended."
—Sherman Report

“Silverman’s a baseball fanatics’s baseball fanatic who has forgotten more lore than most fans will ever learn. He’s got a knack for putting the memorable pieces together into a narrative that showcases heroic achievement and lunacy alike—and Swinging ’73 has plenty of both.”
Blue Stone Press

"Silverman hits a home run with his latest baseball book. Readable baseball books are a dollar-a-dozen—except when they happen to be written by one of our neighbors. Then, they're worth a fortune. That happens to be the case with the hot-off-the-presses Swinging '73: Baseball's Wildest Season. Which, by the by, you should hurry up and buy. Have some fun reading about a fun time in baseball."
Daily Freeman

"A fun and engaging book that takes readers back to a time when players and fans could more easily relate to one another and before the players had all the rights they enjoy today. Silverman has done a terrific job of capturing the era and those great Oakland teams. Anyone who grew up with those A’s or enjoys reading about baseball history or the 1970s in general should buy a copy."
Alive magazine

"In a season when controversies were commonplace, Silverman hits all the high notes. The most interesting is obviously the decision made by Kekich and Peterson to swap families, and the author reports the situation professionally without passing judgment. ... Swinging ’73 is a book that should be in every baseball fan’s personal library."
—The Writer's Journey

"Silverman does good work on the three teams that serve as the center of the book. He interviewed some of the principals from those seasons, and they provide some good stories. The story about the A's allocating playoff tickets with a skeleton staff by hand, for example, is a classic. Some of the players provide fresh insights. ... If you have an interest in the A's and Mets of that era, you'll enjoy the book and the memories it provides."
—Sports Book Review Center

"Silverman crafts a thrilling account of the 1973 baseball season itself right up to the final out of the World Series. The reader will not get bogged down in detail during this fun and fascinating read. Highly recommended both for sports fans and those interested more generally in this crucible of a year."
Library Journal, starred review

"Silverman deftly recalls those strange days through the prism of baseball, where weirdness reigned that year. Swinging '73 is a fabulous guide to a lost landscape in baseball and America."
—John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball and author of Baseball in the Garden of Eden

"Swinging '73 shines an informative, amusing, and highly readable light on one of the decade's greatest seasons, an action-packed year populated by brilliant players, unforgettable characters, and one of the weirdest pennant races of all time. Dig it!"
—Dan Epstein, author of Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s

"Matt Silverman brilliantly captures major league baseball at the very moment that it bloomed into beautiful Technicolor ridiculousness. Reading Swinging ’73 is like hearing about a wild party from the one guy who stayed sober enough to notice and remember all the hilarious, embarrassing, illuminating details."
—Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told through Baseball Cards

Library Journal
If you had to pick out one year that epitomized the volatility of the 1970s, 1973 would be it. Watergate was rearing its ugly head. The Vietnam War finally ended. OPEC embargoed oil, sending gas prices soaring. In the midst of all of this, Silverman (Baseball Miscellany) suggests, baseball offered a reprieve. He details how the 1973 MLB season unfolded as it ushered in Willie Mays’s last season, and started two American League phenomena that changed the game: the designated hitter and George Steinbrenner’s ownership of the Yankees. Silverman takes readers around the major leagues, placing the baseball season in the cultural and political climate of 1973 as he does so. Anecdotes about such cultural details as the Atkin’s diet and Archie Bunker do not hinder the larger story as he effectively connects 1973 into baseball history. He crafts a thrilling account of the 1973 baseball season itself right up to the final out of the World Series. The reader will not get bogged down in detail during this fun and fascinating read.
VERDICT Highly recommended both for sports fans and those interested more generally in this crucible of a year. They may also enjoy Tim Wendel’s Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever.—Jacob Sherman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., San Antonio

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762780600
  • Publisher: Lyons Press, The
  • Publication date: 3/17/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 232,731
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Silverman has written or co-written nine books on baseball. Formerly the associate publisher for Total Sports Publishing and a longtime member of the Society of Baseball Research, he was lead writer, editor, and spokesman for Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia. He blogs regularly at MetSilverman.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Fun read

    This book took me back to the year I graduated from high school and left for college. Enjoyable nostalgic look back at the baseball season and other things going on at the time.

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  • Posted June 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Great detail of eventful year, writing a bit awkward

    Silverman has selected an eventful year filled with unusual events and colorful characters. His portraits of owners (esp. Charlie Finley, George Steinbrenner), individual players and team chemistry are excellent. It is among the best researched baseball book in quite a while, filled with behind the scenes details. This could have been a GREAT book except for the amateur writing which is distracting. This flaw can eventually be overcome to bring some good satisfying read that could have been better.

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