On Friday, October 10th, and Saturday, October 11th, KCSB-FM 91.9 / KCSB Sports and Granada Books: A Community Bookstore present two free talks by Dan EpsteinRolling Stone’s regular baseball columnist and author of Stars & Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76.

Courtesy St. Martin's Press.

STARS AND STRIKES Cover (Thomas Dunne Books 2014)

Released last spring, Stars and Strikes is a follow-up to Epstein’s acclaimed Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s, both from Thomas Dunne Books. The Friday multimedia presentation will be at the Associated Students Annex/Media Center at UC Santa Barbara, starting at 6pm (with complimentary refreshments provided). The Saturday night event will begin at 7pm at Granada Books in downtown Santa Barbara.

KCSB-FM’s Sports Director Alex Kim is enthusiastic about the first public events organized by his department in recent memory. “Both nights synch nicely with baseball’s postseason playoffs, and also come at a time of renewed interest in 1970s baseball, with two new documentaries making the rounds: Netflix’s The Battered Bastards of Baseball and the indie film No No: A Dockumentary, about pitcher Dock Ellis.” He adds, “KCSB Sports has a strong alumni legacy, but we’re looking to create even more learning opportunities for our sportscasters, many of whom are excited to engage with a successful writer like Dan Epstein. It is all the more gratifying that this will happen at events open to everyone.”

Epstein’s new work reflects on a moment of re-birth for the National Pastime, which coincided with the nation’s 200th birthday celebration in 1976. As Vietnam and Watergate faded from memory, and U.S. pop culture reflected “Me Generation” hedonism and flamboyance, baseball was becoming defined by big afros, long hair, cookie-cutter multi-purpose stadiums with Astroturf fields, and garish uniforms.

The American Bicentennial season also exposed deep tensions: the game’s feel-good moments and last truly outrageous personalities contrasted with looming labor troubles and the emergence of unrestrained player free agency. Baseball’s “innocence” was disappearing and the game would change forever.

Standout names and stories from that season include: rookie pitching sensation Mark “The Bird” Fidrych; the retirement of home-run champion Hank Aaron; flag-saving hero Rick Monday (a Chicago Cubs outfielder now in the Dodgers broadcast booth); the Chicago White Sox’s experiment with uniform shorts; the final dismantling of the “Swingin’ A’s” dynasty; new Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner; Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine”; the return of the New York Yankees to prominence under ultra-rich owner George Steinbrenner; and much more.

Photo Credit: Katie Howerton. Courtesy image.

Author/Columnist Dan Epstein (STARS AND STRIKES, BIG HAIR AND PLASTIC GRASS, ROLLING STONE) – Click to Enlarge.

Stars and Strikes cleverly structures its chapters on the titles and themes of popular songs from 1976. Epstein also celebrates two classic baseball films from 1976 (a point when Hollywood was shifting from tales of anti-heroes to plucky underdogs): Michael Ritchie’s Little League-classic, The Bad News Bears, and John Badham’s barnstorming story of the Negro Leagues, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings. Contemporary real-world events are also discussed in Stars and Strikes: such as the Summer Olympics in Montreal, the Carter vs. Ford presidential campaign, busing riots, the Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak, and the trial of heiress Patty Hearst.

While Big Hair and Plastic Grass documented the rollercoaster decade of the 1970s, Stars and Strikes brings to life all the characters, events and cultural forces behind the Spirit of ’76.

Each presentation will include a Q&A session and book signing (with copies of both Epstein titles available for purchase).

Granada Books is located at 1224 State Street in Santa Barbara. The Associated Students Annex is immediately across from (and north of) UCSB’s Storke Tower. For more information, call KCSB-FM at (805) 893-3921 or Granada Books at (805) 845-1818. This scheduled weekend is part of KCSB-FM’s Fall 2014 “It’s Not Just In Your Head” Events Calendar.

Stars and Strikes’ Author Dan Epstein: Multi-Media Presentation & Book Signing
Friday, October 10th, 6pm
Associated Students Annex / Bldg. 434 (aka “Former Women’s Center“: across the bike path/due north of UCSB’s Storke Tower)
Refreshments Provided

Stars and Strikes’ Author Dan Epstein: Talk & Book Signing
Saturday, October 11th, 7pm
Granada Books (1224 State Street)

Both Events are FREE & Open to the Public!