Many of the most powerful trends in baseball today have their roots in the 1970s. Baseball entered that decade seriously behind the times in racial 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. The 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-hored tradition that all players, including the pitcher, must play on offense as well as defense-found many teams ill-equipped to adapt.
Joseph G. Preston lives in Apple Valley, California.