The 1960s were among the most compelling years in the history of the United States, from the intensifying clamor for civil rights to the tragic incidents of assassination and war. Caught up in this sea of restlessness was major league baseball, and the manner in which baseball addressed the challenges of this decade would have a lasting impact on the game.
In The New Boys of Summer: Baseball's Radical Transformation in the Late Sixties, Paul Hensler looks at the key issues confronting baseball during this tumultuous time. Hensler carefully examines how domestic racial issues, the war in Vietnam, assassinations of prominent public figures, youthful rebellion, and drug use each placed their imprint on the game just as baseball was about to celebrate its centennial season. The expansion of both the American and National leagues is also covered in depth, as are the new divisional alignments and major rule changes that were implemented in 1969. Other factors impacting the national pastime include the appointment of Bowie Kuhn as commissioner, the rising influence of Marvin Miller as the director of the players association, the construction of modern stadiums, and the rapid developments in information technology.
An earlier generation of players was venerated as the Boys of Summer, and indeed, they continue to hold their rightful place in baseball’s legend and lore; but in the late 1960s, a fresh cast of characters made their own mark as transformations in the game brought baseball into the new modern era. Baseball historians and fans alike will be entertained and informed by this fresh look at the national pastime in the decade of discontent.