KCSB and Granada Books will host two separate presentations this weekend featuring award-winning journalist and Rolling Stone baseball columnist, Dan Epstein, to discuss the release of his latest book Stars & Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’ 76.
The first talk will be held on campus tomorrow at the Associated Students Annex/Media Center beginning at 6 p.m., followed by another presentation Saturday at Granada Books in downtown Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. Both presentations are free to the public and include a Q&A session and book signing.
Stars & Strikes, published earlier this spring by Thomas Dunne Books, takes us through the players and moments that came to define the year 1976 in baseball and some of the cultural shifts taking place in the country during its bicentennial anniversary.
“What I tried to do with Stars & Strikes, was to basically create a written time capsule that would transport people back to that year,” Epstein said.
Epstein says the reason for writing the book is to put into perspective the importance 1976 had in changing baseball, a time when the game was characterized by players’ bright uniforms, eccentric owners, disastrous promotions and drug use.
“In the ’70s, the players are no longer wearing baggy wool uniforms, they’re wearing skin tight polyester double knits with bright colors,” Epstein said. “Players felt a lot more comfortable expressing themselves as individuals and that really ties into what was happening in the rest of the country.”
A full year of concentrated work went into completing the book before its publication with Epstein relying on periodicals, radio broadcasts, player interviews, movies and music for research to accurately depict the sentiment of the era in the book.
The resurgence of the New York Yankees under owner George Steinbrenner, Ted Turner’s first year as owner of the Braves and the Cincinnati Reds’ historic run to a World Series title are other topics analyzed.
Epstein was 10 years old in 1976 and refers to this year as the time he fell in love with the game. Stars & Strikes allowed him to revisit some of the more complicated headlines that surrounded baseball during the period such as the spring training lockout and the early stages of free agency.
“There’s part of me that just wanted to go back and relive that, and maybe understand things about that year that I didn’t understand when I was 10,” Epstein said.
For Epstein, baseball during this decade has been overlooked by most historians due to the era’s unconventional — and sometimes bizarre — narrative.
“When I read books about the era it tends to gloss over the weird stuff or look at it as odd ball things that weren’t really part of the narrative,” Epstein said. “But for me, that was the narrative. That was what was so fascinating and compelling about the era that needs to be celebrated.”
A version of this article appeared on page 12 of October 9, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.