Angell, Roger 1920–

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ANGELL, Roger 1920–

PERSONAL: Born September 19, 1920, in New York, NY; son of Ernest and Katharine Shepley (Sergeant) Angell; married Evelyn Ames Baker, October, 1942 (divorced, 1963); married Carol Rogge, October, 1963; children: (first marriage) Caroline S., Alice; (second marriage) John Henry. Education: Harvard University, A.B., 1942.

ADDRESSES: Home—1261 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10028. Office—New Yorker, 25 W. 43rd St., New York, NY 10036.

CAREER: Curtis Publishing Company, New York, NY, editor and writer for Magazine X, 1946–47; Holiday, New York, NY, senior editor, 1947–56; New Yorker, New York, NY, fiction editor and general contributor, 1956–. Military service: U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942–46; served in Pacific theater.

MEMBER: Authors Guild (vice president, 1975–81 and 1984–89; member of national council, 1975–), Authors League of America, PEN, Century Association, Coffee House.

AWARDS, HONORS: George Polk Award for commentary, 1981.


The Stone Arbor and Other Stories, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1960.

(Coauthor) Holiday Magazine Book of the World's Fine Food; A Treasury of Adventures in Gastronomy, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1960.

A Day in the Life of Roger Angell (humorous sketches), Viking (New York, NY), 1970, revised edition published as A Day in the Life of Roger Angell: Parodies and Other Pleasures, Penguin (New York, NY), 1990.

The Summer Game, Viking (New York, NY), 1972.

Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1977.

Late Innings: A Baseball Companion, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982.

(Author of text) Walter Iooss, Jr., photographer, Baseball (pictorial), Abrams (New York, NY), 1984.

Season Ticket: A Baseball Companion, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1988.

Once More around the Park: A Baseball Reader, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.

(Editor) Nothing but You: Love Stories from the New Yorker, Random House (New York, NY), 1997.

A Pitcher's Story: Innings with David Cone, Warner (New York, NY), 2001.

Game Time: A Baseball Companion, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2003.

Contributor to anthologies, including This Great Game, edited by Doris Townsend, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1971, and Birth of a Fan, edited by Ron Fimrite, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993. Author of introduction to numerous books.

SIDELIGHTS: Roger Angell "makes baseball sound like an art form; he demonstrates that writing about it is an art form, too," wrote Herbert Mitgang in the New York Times. It is a sentiment that has been echoed by many in the years since the publication of The Summer Game, Angell's first collection of elegant essays on baseball. Angell's ensuing books include Five Seasons, Late Innings, Season Ticket, and Once More around the Park, and have confirmed his status as what Joel Conarroe (among others) described as "our laureate of the pastime" in the New York Times Book Review.

"Angell is that rare baseball fan who has been able to make a career out of his pleasure," mused Steven P. Gietschier in Dictionary of Literary Biography. "Without abandoning the wonder, the affection, and the detachment that characterize a fan's kinship to baseball, Angell has fashioned a string of remarkable essays that explore the sport in consistently new ways. His work possesses a grace and elegance previously unknown in sports journalism and has earned a lasting place in the literature spawned by the national pastime."

The son of Katharine Shepley Sergeant and the stepson of E. B. White, Angell is a fiction editor at the New Yorker, where most of his baseball essays originally appeared. These literary roots set him apart in the field of sports writing. Mark Harris claimed in Tribune Books that Angell "sounds like no other baseball journalist." In a Newsweek article titled "Angell of the Base Paths," David Lehman made note of what he called Angell's "poetic resonance" and quoted Angell: "If I was influenced by anyone, I guess it was by my stepfather, E. B. White…. He suffered writing but made it look easy."

According to Gary Dretzka in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the very nature of Angell's assignments sets him apart from fellow baseball writers: "The New Yorker magazine's comparatively loose deadlines allow him to write for the ages," Dretzka observed, "not just the next morning's box score scanners." Such deadlines have allowed for what Conarroe described as Angell's "unhurried pace," noting: "Even the individual sentences suggest a leisurely approach to life. Mr. Angell is addicted to dashes and parentheses—small pauses or digressions in the narrative like those moments when the umpire dusts off home plate or a pitcher rubs up a new ball—that serve to slow an already deliberate movement almost to a standstill."

Characteristic of Angell's writing is his seemingly natural rapport with those whose lives revolve around baseball. As Art Hill of Sports Illustrated remarked, "One of the most appealing aspects of [the author's] reporting is the air of … innocence he takes with him when he talks to baseball people, whether it be in a World Series locker room or on a lazy spring afternoon at a training camp in Arizona or Florida. You don't get informative answers from players and managers unless you ask the right questions, but Angell makes it look easy."

To some, like Mim Udovitch in the Village Voice, there is a gentility in Angell's writing style that does not match the reality of the sport or its fans. In the Washington Post Book World, George Robinson suggested that there is something of the "windy" or the "gaudy" in Angell's Once More around the Park, but added that "Angell is the Babe Ruth of baseball prose stylists, and you have to excuse the little lapses as the price of the thrills he can provide." In Robinson's opinion, "Angell has a reputation like the 1927 Yankees—the greatest ever, an untouchable."

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt in the New York Times Book Review likened Angell to a baseball player who is "no star of the brightest magnitude," but one who "does it all well and makes it all look easy. And reading all his pieces together makes one realize how well he's been playing throughout the years." Others compared the experience of reading Angell's work to the experience of attending a game. For Conarroe, "The next best thing to being at a baseball game is reading Roger Angell." Mitgang, reviewing Once More around the Park for the New York Times, wrote: "To read it is like watching a game unfold in its own good time over a long afternoon, hoping it will go into extra innings and last until sundown."

For many, as Harris noted, Angell is "the ideal critic, free of jealousy, of partisan anger, of the temptation to assert his superiority to the athlete with abusive advice on how to play the game. He writes with respect of every player he mentions, making the game larger than winning and losing, bigger than persons or teams, a triumph of art and grace." In Wilfrid Sheed's opinion, expressed in the New York Review of Books, "Angell was born to write about baseball; it consumes him, as artists are consumed." "The degree of his caring about baseball, I think, is what makes Angell so special," wrote Hill. "Quite apart from his tremendous technical knowledge and his sharp eye for a significant, generally unnoticed detail, he obviously loves the game unstintingly."

Still, that great love has suffered because of the greed that has tainted modern baseball. In a Dictionary of Literary Biography essay, Howard Good proclaimed that "a certain somberness has crept into Angell's prose" since the 1980s. Good further noted that the pieces Angell has written since his 1991 collection, Once More around the Park, have sometimes sounded "heavy-hearted," and concluded that "the 254-day players' strike that snatched away the 1994 pennant race and wiped out the World Series for the first time in ninety years served only to further alienate Angell's affections." Angell's feelings about the strike were expressed in "Hardball," described by Gietschier as "an evenhanded but passionate analysis of the sport's seemingly intractable labor-management war. Angell did not expect either side in the dispute to care much about what he had to offer in the way of suggestions to resolve their differences, but he did hope they would understand his concerns as one of the millions of fans who would have to decide whether or not to go back to the ballparks when the strike was settled: 'I'll probably want to go,' he concluded, 'but right now—and here's another baseball first—I'm not too sure about that.'" And yet, by 1995, Angell had written another essay urging fans—or former fans—to get out to the ballparks, support the game, and enjoy it.

A rather weary tone permeated Angell's collaboration with pitcher David Cone, a veteran of many years who played many successful seasons with the New York Yankees. A winner of five World Series rings and a Cy Young award, Cone had also functioned as a leading spokesman for the players during the 1995 strike. When the biography was conceived, the idea was for Cone to tell Angell his techniques for outsmarting batters, as he proceeded with another winning season with the Yankees. But Cone's throwing arm began to trouble him, and the book instead became a chronicle of his struggle against age and bad luck. As the season went on, many urged Angell to drop the book out of respect for Cone's problems, but he refused to do so. In the end Cone lost fourteen games and won only four. Despite Cone's dismal year, A Pitcher's Story: Innings with David Cone is "still a good book, due mostly to the two principals," assured Budd Bailey in the Buffalo News. According to John Zebrowki in Seattle Times, A Pitcher's Story is "a volume about extreme competitiveness and growing old. Cone is baffled by his fading fortunes, but Angell gives us a clear portrait of a player grappling with the fact that it may all be over. The book is better for it." Zebrowki commented that despite the difficult story that had to be told, Angell still managed to "show Cone's true depth and fire."

Game Time: A Baseball Companion, published in 2003, "is a testament to Angell's unquestioned writing skills and love of the game," noted a contributor to Publishers Weekly. In this collection of new and previously published works, the author "deftly commands poetic descriptions" and "insightful analysis" into essays that "rise and fall like the very action on the field." Booklist critic GraceAnne A. DeCandido found "there is a lovely rhythm" to the essays, which are divided into sections on spring training, the regular season, and the World Series. She added: "Angell's prose is by turn courtly or sly, luscious or puckish, the occasional innocent pun or wicked metaphor causing one to choke on one's beer."

For many reasons, "Angell belongs on any list of the 'all-time greatest' baseball writers," concluded Good. "He has avoided the cardinal sin of sportswriting (and sports movies)—the tendency to represent the games people play, or pay others to play for them, as a character test. His writing embodies the most endearing qualities of baseball itself: a complex harmony of parts; a leisurely, meditative pace; and a capacity to startle and delight."



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Coffin, Tristram Potter, The Old Ball Game: Baseball in Folklore and Fiction, Herder & Herder (New York, NY), 1971.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 26, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 171: Twentieth-Century American Sportswriters, 1996, Volume 185: American Literary Journalists, 1945–1995, First Series, 1997.

Gill, Brendan, Here at the New Yorker, Random House (New York, NY), 1975.

Good, Howard, Diamonds in the Dark: America, Baseball and the Movies, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1997.

Guttman, Allen, A Whole New Ball Game, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1988.

Lardner, Ring, Some Champions, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Richard Layman, Scribner (New York, NY), 1976.

Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher, Me and Dimaggio: A Baseball Fan Goes in Search of His Gods, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1986.

Shannon, Mike, Diamond Classics: Essays on 100 of the Best Baseball Books Ever Published, McFarland & Co. (Jefferson, NC), 1989.

Smith, Leverett Y., Jr., The American Dream and the National Game, Popular Press (Bowling Green, OH), 1975.


Aethlon, fall, 1987, pp. 35-54.

America, April 6, 1991, George W. Hunt, Once More around the Park: A Baseball Reader, p. 13.

Booklist, January 1, 1997, Donna Seaman, review of Nothing but You: Love Stories from the New Yorker, p. 809; April 15, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Pitcher's Story: Innings with David Cone, p. 1506; September 1, 2001, Bill Ott, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. 35, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, interview with Roger Angell, p. 36; March 1, 2003, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Game Time: A Baseball Companion, p. 1106; September 1, 2003, "Top 12 sports nonfiction," p. 41.

Buffalo News, July 1, 2001, Budd Bailey, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. F7.

Journal of American Culture, winter, 1982, pp. 52-56.

Journal of Popular Culture, fall, 1986, pp. 17-27.

Library Journal, February 15, 1991, Morey Berger, review of Once More around the Park, p. 200; February 1, 1997, Patrick Sullivan, review of Nothing but You, p. 109; April 15, 2001, Morey Berger, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. 103; April 15, 2004, Michael Rogers, review of Five Seasons, p. 132.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 3, 1988, p. 10.

Massachusetts Review, summer, 1975, pp. 550-557.

Michigan Quarterly Review, summer, 1986, pp. 568-581.

Modern Maturity, May-June, 2001, Harry Stein, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. 88.

National Review, October 14, 1977; May 27, 1991, James C. Roberts, review of Once More around the Park, p. 52.

News Journal (Wilmington, DE), May 13, 2001, Al Mascitti, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. H6.

Newsweek, May 10, 1982; April 11, 1988, p. 74.

New York Observer, May 14, 2001, Ted Widmer, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. 20.

New York Review of Books, September 23, 1982, pp. 45-48.

New York Times, March 16, 1991, Herbert Mitgang, review of Once More around the Park, p. 10; December 15, 1996, Bruce Weber, "Poetic Nod to Famous and the Not-So-Famous," p. 51; May 1, 2001, Michiko Kakutani, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. B1.

New York Times Book Review, June 11, 1972; May 15, 1977, pp. 1, 32-34; May 23, 1982; March 20, 1988, p. 9; April 7, 1991, Peggy Constantine, review of Once More around the Park, p. 27; June 1, 1997, Ian Jack, review of Nothing but You, p. 28; May 6, 2001, Pete Hamill, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. 16.

Palm Beach Post, March 30, 2003, Scott Eyman, review of Game Time, p. 4J.

People, July 26, 1982, pp. 81-83; May 20, 1991, Lorenzo Carcaterra, review of Once More around the Park, p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, July 10, 1972, p. 22; December 16, 1996, review of Nothing but You, p. 42; April 16, 2001, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. 54; March 24, 2003, review of Game Time, p. 70.

SABR Review of Books, number 3, 1988, pp. 43-52.

San Francisco Chronicle, January 17, 1997, Jon Carroll, A Cup of Coffee in the Bigs, p. D16.

Seattle Times, April 27, 1997, review of Nothing but You, p. N2; May 20, 2001, John Zebrowski, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. J8.

Sports Illustrated, May 17, 1982; April 29, 1991, Ron Fimrite, review of Once More around the Park, p. 13; April 12, 2004, Sridhar Pappu, "Write of Spring," p. 24.

Time, May 16, 1977; May 10, 1982; May 19, 2003, Lev Grossman, "Homers of the Homer," p. 64.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 6, 1988, p. 1.

Village Voice, April 23, 1991, p. 67.

Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2001, Richard J. Tofel, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. W10.

Washington Post, October 10, 1984; May 20, 2001, Allen St. John, review of A Pitcher's Story, p. T9.

Washington Post Book World, June 5, 1977; May 23, 1982; March 27, 1988, p. 1; April 7, 1991, p. 11.

Writing on the Edge, fall, 1992, pp. 133-150.

ONLINE, (April 16, 2003), Dave Weich, interview with Roger Angell., (April 10, 2003), Steve Kettmann, "Roger Angell."

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Angell, Roger 1920–

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