STARS & STRIKES AND THE SPIRIT OF ’76: Dan Epstein Talks Baseball, Beer, and Bowling With Billy Corgan

In keeping with the mandatory Interwebs’ Throwback Thursday theme, I thought I’d mark Baseball’s first full opening week with this piece that time travels back to the game’s most free-spirited, shaggy-maned, let-it-all-hang-out, rock & roll decade: why, I’m talking about the ’70s, of course! As friends and folks know, baseball is right up there with music as a lifelong obsession that, over the course of many decades, has cut way into what a reasonably sane person might characterize as productive time well spent. So my exclusive, one-on-one interview with renowned baseball author and columnist Dan Epstein, conducted for my usually music-centric “RPM” blog, brought together two of my favorite passions. Meanwhile, Dan’s lively, well-researched, entertaining tongue-in-cheek — or is that a pinch-between-your-cheek-and-gum –writing on our national pastime (one of them, anyway) has quickly ascended my ladder of likes, as well. And as you’ll see (or rather, read, although there is a bunch of stuff to see and hear as well too), Dan’s a veritable rock & roll dude himself. So yeah, we covered a lot of turf and got a lot of important stuff accomplished with this chat. Hope you enjoy it! Oh, and buy his books on ’70s baseball! (If Oprah can have her book club and thumb-up “69 Shades of Taupe” or whatever it is…well, hell, “RPM”‘ can throw up some horns too and give some props too!) Plus, after a hard day toiling at the cubicle, these tomes go great while relaxing on the avocado-green shag rug with a big glass of chilled Riunite on ice (that’s nice!) and maybe some England Dan & John Ford Coley or Little River Band on the hi-fi. It’ll make you forget that bad trade you made in the Summer of ’76, when you gave away your copy of Aerosmith’s “Rocks” for that stupid pet rock that didn’t do squat.

RPM: Jonathan Perry's Life in Analog

9781250034380Dan Epstein is a lot like the decade he writes and speaks so eloquently about. Like the 1970’s, he’s unabashedly shaggy. He has a soft spot for oversized Bicentennial  belt buckles and AM radio novelty fare like C.W. McCall’s “Convoy.” He has an abiding affection for an Oscar Gamble-sized Afro (if you know who that is, you are the perfect prospective baseball reader of Dan’s books and blog). And he’s as bright, bold, and funny as a lime green leisure suit or poly-blend Houston Astros tequila sunrise jersey.  Like me, Epstein was just about the perfect age (47) for a kid who grew up in the shag-carpet thick of things during the “Me Decade.”  He was ten years old when his favorite baseball movie, “The Bad News Bears,”  hit theaters at the same time the Bicentennial itself hit like a marketing monument to the grand old flag of free enterprise. You name the product, red, white, and blue…

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