Ronald Reagan, Peter Ueberroth, and the 1980s

By Treder, Steve | Nine, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Ronald Reagan, Peter Ueberroth, and the 1980s


Treder, Steve, Nine


Think of the United States in the 1970s, and what are the first images that leap to mind? For most of us, the 1970s conjure up realms of pop-culture tackiness: the laughable fads and fashions of the "Me Decade," the leisure suits, roller skates, and disco. Or perhaps it's the airy pretentiousness of the decade's "I'm OK, you're OK" psycho-babble, rationalizing witless self-centered indulgence and blissfully granting license to such wackiness as crystal healing, talking to houseplants, and taking seriously the notion that aliens were systematically abducting ships and airplanes from the Bermuda Triangle. (1)

Now, turn the 1970s image over just a bit, and ragged, darker scenes emerge. Gas lines. Stagflation. Watergate. Patty Hearst, kidnapped, brainwashed, waving an Mi carbine while robbing a bank. The People's Temple committing mass suicide at Jonestown.

However we recall the 1970s, with a heavy sigh or a dismissive chuckle, we don't recall it as an era of success, of intelligent achievement, or even simply of good taste. It was one of those periods in our collective history that we regard rather as one of the more embarrassing episodes in our personal lives, one on which we quickly turn the page when browsing the photo album: oh, were we ever "going through a phase" back then.

Now, consider baseball during the 1970s. The era had its share of heroic achievements: Hank Aaron hitting number 715, Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair, Reggie Jackson making October his own. But, as with the broader culture, what generally comes to mind in thinking of the baseball of the 1970s is both its silliness--the hideous, gaudy, skin-tight polyester uniforms, the ubiquitous natural-as-a-parking-lot Astroturf, the comically overgrown hair--and struggles--the stagnating attendance, the first players' strike in modern history, and the three separate incidents of rioting fans storming a major-league field and causing a forfeit. (3)

THE 1980S AND THE POWER OF IMAGE

Such imagery stands in distinct contrast to that of the decade that immediately followed. To think of baseball in the 1980s is to be comforted by images far less threatening; the 1980s were an era of unprecedented prosperity and stability in the major leagues, populated by players dressed and coiffed far less flamboyantly, as old-fashioned white/gray flannel and conservative grooming once again became the norm. Major League Baseball in the 198os gained a sense of slick, corporate discipline, of carefully packaged, safe "goodness" such as it had never known before. This was fitting, given the American landscape in which baseball was operating. There was no more energy crisis and no more soaring interest rates.' With cheap fuel and easy credit, Americans restarted the bacchanalia of old-fashioned consumption.

The economic boom coincided with a resurgence of conservatism, not just political, but sartorial and behavioral: no more curly perms and pot parties, it was a time of power suits and Perrier. It was now "hip to be square," time to "dress for success." The national mood was ready, even eager, to put the messy, expressive experimentations of the past behind; this was a country that knew what it wanted, knew how to get it, and had no time for doubt.

Images reflect reality, but of course they don't define or contain it. Both within and beyond baseball in the 1970s and 1980s, reality was less tidy, less easily captured, than a simplistic image would have us believe. Yet images are profound: try as we may, we can't escape them, and they influence our understanding and our action in ways far beyond our conscious control. There's abundantly good reason for those in power to attempt to shape not just their own personal image, but the image of all within their domain.

It's no accident that the images we hold of the United States and of Major League Baseball in the 198os are so much cleaner, more positive, and more straight-arrow than those of the 19705. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ronald Reagan, Peter Ueberroth, and the 1980s
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.