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Talkin' Baseball: An Oral History of Baseball in the 1970s
     

Talkin' Baseball: An Oral History of Baseball in the 1970s

by Phil Pepe
 
Baseball in the 1970s—remember how awesome it was? It was a decade of heroes and upsets and dramatic freeze-frame moments. Never had the game been more exciting. Never did it change so radically. In this wonderful oral history, veteran sportswriter Phil Pepe brings one incredible baseball decade back to life in the words of the guys who played—and

Overview

Baseball in the 1970s—remember how awesome it was? It was a decade of heroes and upsets and dramatic freeze-frame moments. Never had the game been more exciting. Never did it change so radically. In this wonderful oral history, veteran sportswriter Phil Pepe brings one incredible baseball decade back to life in the words of the guys who played—and lived—the game.

Hear union leader Marvin Miller recount St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood's monumental challenge of the iron-clad reserve clause, and the dawning of the age of free agency. Ron Blomberg recalls his time at bat as the game's first Designated Hitter. Earl Weaver and Brooks Robinson describe the Orioles dismantling of The Big Red Machine. Ralph Houk and Rusty Staub relive the actions and antics of Tigers rookie sensation Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. And Diane Munson shares her heart about her husband, Yankee captain Thurman Munson, after he died in a tragic plane crash.

It was the first time a player ever earned a million bucks. Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king. Electronic scoreboards blazed against the night sky. Fans screamed "Ya gotta believe" and sang "We Are Family." All this happened in one amazing decade—and it's all right here in one stupendous book. The memories and the marvels of more than forty voices, from Bernie Carbo, Rennie Stennett, and Mike Torrez, to Tom Seaver, George Steinbrenner, and Reggie Jackson—Phil Pepe weaves their recollections into one of the most enjoyable baseball books ever written.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Those lost in clouds of nostalgia for golden eras like the 1920s, with Babe Ruth leading the Yankee fence-busters, need to be reminded of the importance of the 1970s. In that decade, the contemporary game took shape not so much for the continued expansion of the major leagues as for the advent of binding arbitration and free agency and, incidentally, the addition of the designated hitter in the American League. Pepe, a WCBS-FM commentator and a sportswriter, recalls those years with a breezy text and more than 100 action photos. The contributors include almost all the major figures of the periodmanagers like Sparky Anderson and Earl Weaver, players like Tom Seaver and George Brett. Also highlighted are the hirsute and brawling Oakland A's, the pitching-rich Baltimore Orioles, the dramatic moments when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home-run record and the excitement of Reggie Jackson's three homers in a World Series game. With its inviting format of sidebars, quotes and listse.g., top hitters, nicknames, even ratings of facial hair (e.g., best muttonchops)diamond fans will have a lot of fun with this book. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Pepe, sportswriter, broadcaster, and coauthor of Mickey Mantle's My Favorite Summer: 1956 (LJ 2/15/91) and other sports bios, captures the tone of Big League ball in the 1970s. His interviews with players, managers, and others cover the excitement and turmoil of the era. The rise of player independence and salaries, the tragic deaths of Hodges, Clemente, and Munson, the designated hitter rule and new batting records, all spark this account. Recommended for popular collections.
Kirkus Reviews
Playing the old nostalgia card, New Yorkbased baseball writer and radio personality Pepe (The Wit and Wisdom of Yogi Berra, 1974) strip-mines the decade for meaningful nuggets. Part of what he unearths, if unintentionally, are some of the reasons why fans today are less enamored of the game they used to be—and why nostalgia rings hollow in cynical times. Granted, an era like the '70s did spawn its share of legends: players Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, and Pete Rose; the great managers Tom Lasorda and Earl Weaver; and such footnote characters as Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, and Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky (all of whom Pepe interviewed for this book). But the decade in question also gave rise to the proliferation of AstroTurf playing surfaces, to the widespread use of drugs by players, persistent labor unrest, ugly double-knit uniforms, and, oh yes, George Steinbrenner. And Pepe knows the era as only one who lived in the midst of it could. Unfortunately, mating the author's homely and thoughtful interview style to this book's camp concept (or is it a conceit?), is like a hitching a thoroughbred horse to a plow. Pepe's recollections of baseball's big events—the late Curt Flood's battle against the reserve clause, the tragic death of New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, Henry Aaron's assault on Babe Ruth's 60-year-old career-home-run record, or the season-delaying strike of 1972—and of such minutiae as players' hair- and lifestyles capture the times effortlessly, if somewhat guilelessly. However, such devices as numbering the book's ten chapters as "innings" (last we checked, most baseball games had nine) and naming it after an awful Terry Cashman songfrom the '80s celebrating baseball legends from the '50s trifles with its potential. Pity! Caught somewhere between reportage and nostalgic blooey, the book slips away from the outfielder. (b&w photos)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345414977
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/24/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.55(h) x 1.28(d)

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Meet the Author

Longtime New York sportswriter Phil Pepe currently broadcasts a radio sports column called "Pep Talk  on New York's CBS-FM (America's #1 radio station). Over the years he has written numerous books about baseball and famous ball players. He also organizes the annual Baseball Writers of America Awards Dinner. Mr. Pepe makes his home in Englewood, New Jersey.

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