RIP Roger Angell

trotsplits

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Jul 15, 2005
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I am saddened to hear this. Reading his various baseball compilations got me through some hard times as a young adult. I've tried to explain baseball fandom - involving, but also beyond the Red Sox - by pointing people to the last paragraph of Agincourt and After (his wrap-up of the 1975 MLB season):

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look—I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring—caring deeply and passionately, really caring—which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté—the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball—seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

I'm not sure how much I'm adding to the board by saying that people don't write this well anymore. Maybe I'm just hoping that other people use this opportunity to seek out Angell's books and articles. They made me feel better in a tough stretch and we could all use a bit of that right now.
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

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Jul 26, 2007
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His brilliance was one of the things my father and I found common ground on.

The Summer Game is my favorite book. Every now and then I will take it out and read it, and even though I’ve read it 50 times, maybe more, and I know exactly what is going to happen, his writing makes it enjoyable even now.

A true giant.
 

bankshot1

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I spent so many enjoyable hours reading Angell's books and essays in the New Yorker. The Summer Game and Five Seasons are must reads.

Today just got darker and sadder.

RIP Mr Angell
 

Mystic Merlin

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Holy shit, he was still alive? If you watch him in Burns’ ‘Baseball’ documentary from ‘94, you would not have guessed he had another nearly thirty years left in him.
 

jon abbey

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Holy shit, he was still alive? If you watch him in Burns’ ‘Baseball’ documentary from ‘94, you would not have guessed he had another nearly thirty years left in him.
He wrote (occasionally) for the New Yorker until 2020, an almost incomprehensible 76 years after his first piece for them.
 

joe dokes

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Jul 18, 2005
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His opus at the end of the 86 season is a classic. He was a fan of both teams, as was I. He was in in Manhattan on the day of game 5, as was I; he stayed as long as he could to watc h, listenbed to the rest on radio, went to Shea that night and parked on the van Wyck, as did I.
My wife works wioth one of his Brooklin, Me., neighbors. He was as nice a guy as you'd expect.
 

joe dokes

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I recently read "Let Me Finish," a collection of stories about his own life. His writing is so good that even his upper-class upbringing was extraordinarily compelling reading.

I fear he is the last of his kind. Every single word mattered.
 

Reggie's Racquet

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I am saddened to hear this. Reading his various baseball compilations got me through some hard times as a young adult. I've tried to explain baseball fandom - involving, but also beyond the Red Sox - by pointing people to the last paragraph of Agincourt and After (his wrap-up of the 1975 MLB season):

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look—I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring—caring deeply and passionately, really caring—which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté—the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball—seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

I'm not sure how much I'm adding to the board by saying that people don't write this well anymore. Maybe I'm just hoping that other people use this opportunity to seek out Angell's books and articles. They made me feel better in a tough stretch and we could all use a bit of that right now.
Thank you for this. I sent it to my wife who sometimes doesn't understand my passion for Boston sports teams.
 

Ted Cox 4 president

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His New Yorker pieces were must reading, year after year after year, usually a spring training report and then an end-of-season wrap-up. Reading The Summer Game turned me into a baseball fan, from being just a hometown-team fan. I was lucky enough to attend a reading he did in NYC probably 40 years ago, and also one he did at the library in Brooklin, Me., 10-15 years later. Last summer I took a course at the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, and my instructor reported having had dinner with him and friends the week before. What a writer. RIP, R.A.
 

RG33

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An absolute legend. 101 is a great run.

I’m looking forward to reading everything posted in this thread this weekend.
 

edoug

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A great article on him
https://vault.si.com/vault/2014/07/21/the-passion-of-roger-angell
Just one little tidbit.
"To go back to the beginning, you have to go back to 1962, when New Yorker editor William Shawn, who wanted more sports in the magazine and wanted his writers to write about what interested them, approached Angell with a question: "You know about baseball?"

"A little bit," Angell replied."
 

joe dokes

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A great article on him
https://vault.si.com/vault/2014/07/21/the-passion-of-roger-angell
Just one little tidbit.
"To go back to the beginning, you have to go back to 1962, when New Yorker editor William Shawn, who wanted more sports in the magazine and wanted his writers to write about what interested them, approached Angell with a question: "You know about baseball?"

"A little bit," Angell replied."
He was a great writer. And when it came to baseball, he was also a great reporter.
 

jaytftwofive

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My favorite was "The Summer Game", but I liked the others also. My only disappointment but I still liked him, was he gave the impression he was a Red Sox fan but I think it was in the book "Late Innings" in the chapter "Not so Boston" , that he admitted he was a Mets fan first. Enjoyed him though. RIP Roger.
 

Deweys New Stance

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Knew this day was inevitable, but still greatly saddened by this news. An incredibly rich and productive life; 101 is a great run. Several good essays mentioned here, but really, if somehow you're not familiar with his work, just find copies of Five Seasons and The Summer Game and dive in. I read both of them like a dozen times when I was a teenager. It was not just his reporting big events like the Series, but the way he would provide observations of all the small moments that make up the game. I still recall a great passage about how he decided on a whim on a cold damp New York day to hop a flight to Florida and within hours was sitting in the press box for a Mets/Yankees spring training matchup.

One of my college essays was the hoary standard "what famous person would you want to have dinner with?" My answer was Roger Angell. About a decade later a work connection provided me with the opportunity to actually have dinner with him. They say never meet your idols, but he was definitely an exception. He was very reserved by nature but very gracious, kind, thoughtful and engaging. I cringe thinking about what an impetuous twenty-something I was at the time; I pretty much was Chris Farley to his Paul McCartney. I don't think he was at all accustomed to someone going all fanboy on him, but he handled it with aplomb.
 

sheamonu

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Year's ago I wrote this in a blog listing what additions I would recommend to those seeking to add to a library on the topic of "baseball". I really could have just listed all Angell's writings. I still think the day my grandfather handed 12 year old me a copy of "The Summer Game" was one of my luckiest.

"Roger Angell's stepfather was E.B. White. Amongst most of us E.B. White is famous for "Charlotte's Webb" and "Stuart Little". Amongst teachers E.B. White is famous for helping produce Strunk and White's "Elements of Style", the ultimate guide on how to construct sentences in the English language. Since Roger Angell embodies pure style when it comes to writing about baseball it's obvious he paid attention to what Mr. White had to say. "The Summer Game", his first collection of baseball essays, was given to me by my grandfather with the simple statement - "Read this - it's the best book about baseball ever written". He was right, and in my mind it still hasn't been eclipsed. Angell analyzes baseball from 1962 to 1972, beginning with the expansion of the game to include the Mets and finishing on the edge of the era of free agency. It's an incredible snapshot of the times (one of the reasons a "Glory of Their Times" type review of the 60's in baseball wouldn't really work is that Angell has already done it so much better) - but more than what it's about it's the way the book is written that is transformative. His description of baseball as a game without a clock is one of the best bits of writing - baseball or otherwise - you will ever find. Angell has written other books, almost as good, but to me this is the gold standard - like I said, Grampa got it right. "?

Ar Dheis de go rabh.
 

InsideTheParker

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Jul 15, 2005
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I am saddened to hear this. Reading his various baseball compilations got me through some hard times as a young adult. I've tried to explain baseball fandom - involving, but also beyond the Red Sox - by pointing people to the last paragraph of Agincourt and After (his wrap-up of the 1975 MLB season):

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look—I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring—caring deeply and passionately, really caring—which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté—the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball—seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

I'm not sure how much I'm adding to the board by saying that people don't write this well anymore. Maybe I'm just hoping that other people use this opportunity to seek out Angell's books and articles. They made me feel better in a tough stretch and we could all use a bit of that right now.
I haven't read Agincourt and After, and yet I have read and very much appreciated and sent to non-fan friends that wonderful paragraph. I do read the New Yorker. Maybe it was in there.
Anyway, I don't feel sad today, how could you, about a life so well and long-lived?
 

Tony C

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He wrote (occasionally) for the New Yorker until 2020, an almost incomprehensible 76 years after his first piece for them.
He wrote an extraordinary piece on being a guy in his 90s, 8 damn years ago https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/17/old-man-3
Funny...as scanned this thread was going to post that same extraordinary piece...and then saw you already had. Great piece (and thx for saving me the google search time).
My favorite was "The Summer Game", but I liked the others also. My only disappointment but I still liked him, was he gave the impression he was a Red Sox fan but I think it was in the book "Late Innings" in the chapter "Not so Boston" , that he admitted he was a Mets fan first. Enjoyed him though. RIP Roger.
I think he was a Sox fan and converted to the Mets. I remember being butt hurt about that in my younger days -- "how???" -- but now I kind of get it and, in any case, *shrug*.

RIP and thx for being key in instilling in me a deepened love for baseball.
 

Looch

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Jul 15, 2021
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Any theories on who this target of Angell’s spitballs in the 1980s was? Cosell is the most obvious one, but any other possibilities?

”Roger’s target was a famous but obnoxious TV know-it-all — on both sports and politics — who was standing in the auxiliary press box aisle making loud comments to a pair of sycophants on all subjects, except the playoff game in progress.”
 

Looch

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Jul 15, 2021
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I just Googled ”Thomas Boswell and Howard Cosell” and “Roger Angell and Howard Cosell” and found plenty of evidence that both Boswell and Angell disdained Cosell, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet. The story is even funnier imagining Cosell in particular dodging the spitballs.
 

Mystic Merlin

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But the article mentions that the spitball event occurred when Angell was in his 80s, ie, between 2002 to last week, and Cosell died in 1985.

My guess is Keith Olbermann, given his penchant for commenting on sports and politics more or less exclusively on TV, and who WOULDN’T call him obnoxious and pompous?

George Will is a decent theory, but he hasn’t been a ubiquitous presence on TV relative to his print output. Indeed, I think Will is most-known for his print output, so Boswell calling him a ‘TV know-it-all’ would be misleading.
 

Looch

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Jul 15, 2021
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Yep, I conflated Angell in his eighties to “the eighties.” Olbermann is an excellent theory but found no Google mentions linking those three guys, though Olbermann had a nice tweet about Angell’s passing. Also George Will, whose politics I abhor, likes baseball and is pretty smart about it and wouldn’t ignore the game. Continuing to stroke chin….
 

loshjott

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But the article mentions that the spitball event occurred when Angell was in his 80s, ie, between 2002 to last week, and Cosell died in 1985.

My guess is Keith Olbermann, given his penchant for commenting on sports and politics more or less exclusively on TV, and who WOULDN’T call him obnoxious and pompous?

George Will is a decent theory, but he hasn’t been a ubiquitous presence on TV relative to his print output. Indeed, I think Will is most-known for his print output, so Boswell calling him a ‘TV know-it-all’ would be misleading.
Olbermann is a good guess. Or maybe Mike Barnicle. I think Will and Boswell get along well and while Will may be a bloviator he’s totally into baseball and doesn’t fit the storyline here.
 

Looch

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Jul 15, 2021
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FWIW the consensus on the Post‘s comment thread is Olbermann, with a couple of Lupica votes.
 

jaytftwofive

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I just Googled ”Thomas Boswell and Howard Cosell” and “Roger Angell and Howard Cosell” and found plenty of evidence that both Boswell and Angell disdained Cosell, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet. The story is even funnier imagining Cosell in particular dodging the spitballs.
My Dad though a fairly progressive person never cared for Cosell. From hogging the limelight of play by play man Keith Jackson in 76 ALCS, and in the beginning going from a supporter of Ali to a kiss ass of the establishment like Bowie Kuhn in the 80's.