Cover image for Major league baseball in the 1970s : a modern game emerges
Major league baseball in the 1970s : a modern game emerges
Preston, Joseph G., 1959-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson : McFarland & Co., [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 403 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV863.A1 P74 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Joseph G. Preston lives in Apple Valley, California.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is a splendid book. The opening chapter on Curt Flood's challenge to the reserve clause and a closing chapter on Walter O'Malley's death bracket more than 30 discrete essays on baseball in the era of Bench and Carlton, Carew and Ryan. This reviewer quarrels only with the subtitle: there is no reason to prefer the 1970s over the 1940s or the 1990s as the moment for the emergence of modernity in an enterprise as perpetually evolutionary as major league baseball. But everything else about this volume clicks. Preston treats subjects as diverse as the reception of Jim Bouton's Ball Four (1970), the introduction of the designated hitter, and the tortured artistry of Ron Luciano. He challenges received views about such subjects as the gratitude fans should owe Marvin Miller for setting players free and the character of Bob Howsam's tactics in building the "Big Red Machine." He even finds valuable lessons about baseball in the 1970s in the careers of such peripheral figures as Jim Bibby, Vern Rapp, and Ron Hunt. Preston has written the book (and the endnotes) in a deliciously engaging manner, without lapsing into cuteness or pretentiousness. Go for it. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections supporting the study of sports. R. Browning Kenyon College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
Introduction: December 2, 1969p. 5
1. Curt Flood, the Man Who Fought the Lawp. 13
2. From the Literary Corner, Ball Fourp. 21
3. The Coming of the Sterile Ashtraysp. 25
4. The Man Who Gave His Body to Baseballp. 33
5. The Angry Menp. 37
6. The End of the Age of Innocencep. 50
7. The Pride of Westchester Highp. 61
8. Charlie Finley's Big Happy Familyp. 66
9. On the Origins of the DH Rulep. 77
10. Bobby Bonds and the Ghost of Baseball Futurep. 86
11. Henry Aaron, Race, and the Recordp. 92
12. The Ten-Cent Beer Fiascop. 102
13. The End of the Fireballer Epochp. 105
14. Steve Carlton's Sounds of Silencep. 117
15. Messersmith and McNally: The Guys Who Fought the Law and Wonp. 121
16. The Potential Immortality of Marvin Millerp. 133
17. The Big Red Machine and the End of an Erap. 136
18. Pete Rose in Full Bloomp. 144
19. The Rotation Revolutionp. 147
20. Consistency and Wit in the Shadowsp. 157
21. The Evolution of the Bullpenp. 160
22. The Aborted Sale of Vida Bluep. 173
23. A Paradox in Actionp. 183
24. The Commissionerp. 187
25. The Birdp. 197
26. George Steinbrenner's New Economicsp. 200
27. Rod Carew and Ted Williams-Style Greatnessp. 210
28. Contending on the Cheapp. 214
29. Bill Veeck's South-Side Wreckp. 226
30. Vern Rapp and Management 101p. 237
31. Steve Garvey and the Essence of Famep. 247
32. Being Without a Chair When the Music Stopsp. 253
33. The Stolen Base Revivalp. 265
34. Dave Kingman: Master of the Homer and the Big Breezep. 274
35. Power to the Umpiresp. 279
36. The Roman Umpirep. 291
37. Willie Stargell and the Evolution of the African American Playerp. 296
Epilogue: August 9, 1979p. 303
Chapter Notesp. 313
Bibliographyp. 383
Indexp. 393