“The romance of New York [City] during that era is contagious.” So comments a reviewer of a recent book of photographs from said era. And what era might that be? The melting-pot 1920s? The beatnik 1950s? The pot-and-protests 60s? The dot-com 90s? Nope; the 70s. The pink mist of nostalgia that now envelops 1970s New York City puzzles us a bit. In memoir after memoir—most of them quite good, by the way—1970s NYC is portrayed as culturally and intellectually heady beyond the imaginings of those then unborn or unfledged. But at the same time, it’s depicted as dirty, dangerous, and broke, and the memoirists describe it as if they’d survived the trenches at Guadalcanal.
We ourselves aren’t nostalgic about 1970s New York, or 1970s anywhere else, for that matter. In one respect, though, we kind of miss the decade, because (awkward segue coming) it saw the rise of the lively-ball-era stolen base. Even in the 60s, of course, there were stolen-base avatars like Maury Wills and Luis Aparicio. They’d steal fifty or more bases and lead the league every year. Otherwise, though, nothing: on average, a 60s team would attempt a stolen base about every other game. Read the rest of this entry »