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Roger Angell's Writing on Baseball Was in a League of Its Own

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Author Roger Angell gestures throughout an interview at his workplace on the New Yorker journal In New York, April 4, 2006.


MARY ALTAFFER/Associated Press

Writing about

Roger Angell

is a type of conceit. It is like commenting on

Ted Williams’s

batting stance or Tiger Woods’s placing stroke.

Angell, the New Yorker’s baseball author, died May 22 at 101. His stepfather was

E. B. White,

the legendary humorist and writer. White married

Katharine Sergeant Angell,

the New Yorker’s fiction editor, in 1929, when Roger was 9. He couldn’t assist however be influenced by the 2 literary giants in his household, and it was no shock he turned to writing. He was a wonderful and gracious man.

Angell wrote about many issues apart from baseball, however he wasn’t a sportswriter within the mildew of Red Smith or

Shirley Povich,

the 2 most distinguished columnists of my period. Angell didn’t comply with boxing or horse racing as Smith did, and in contrast to Povich, he didn’t take up causes just like the paucity of black gamers within the National Football League. Nor did Angell discover attention-grabbing the monetary and enterprise sides of baseball.

Instead, he sought the nuances of the sport—hitting and fielding—whereas largely ignoring the sordid realities of cash and greed. He had a watch for the telling second and the bizarre participant. He was fascinated and bemused by baseball. He understood that the sport was additionally being coated by reporters. He was snug being an observant fan of the sport he liked.

But he packed a punch. His 1991 essay “Homeric Tales” prompted a change in the best way Major League Baseball recorded its single season home-run report. His piece criticized—and urged me to remove—the then-double report for residence runs in a season held by

Babe Ruth,

who hit 60 in 154 video games in 1927, and

Roger Maris,

who hit 61 in 162 video games in 1961. In the ’60s, Commissioner Ford Frick nervous that erasing Ruth’s report would hurt the sport, so he directed that it’s shared. It was a messy determination that led to the fiction that Maris’s achievement had an asterisk subsequent to it within the report e book. There was no asterisk.

The day after I learn Angell’s piece, and a bit stung by what he had written, I started to set in movement the revision via the correct committee. When it was completed, I obtained a word from Maris’s two sons, thanking me for the choice.

Like Angell, the very best sportswriters have sharp pens—and sharper tongues. During the prolonged major-league labor battle in 1981, when Commissioner

Bowie Kuhn

stumbled round attempting to get the problems resolved, Smith is alleged to have quipped, “This strike wouldn’t have happened if Bowie Kuhn were alive today.”

In the same vein, Povich—who for a few years waged a marketing campaign in opposition to

George Preston Marshall’s

refusal to make use of black gamers on the Washington Redskins—started his column at some point after the native staff had been trounced by the Cleveland Browns with this: “

Jim Brown,

born ineligible to play for the Redskins, built-in their finish zone 3 times yesterday.”

Maury Povich

instructed me his father agreed that this was probably his most interesting column.

Roger Angell, Red Smith and Shirley Povich contributed as a lot to my enjoyment of the sport as did

Willie Mays,

Mickey Mantle

and Duke Snider—even when none of us ever noticed a author attempt to hit a fastball.

Mr. Vincent was commissioner of baseball, 1989-92.

Journal Editorial Report: The week’s finest and worst from Kyle Peterson, Allysia Finley and Dan Henninger. Images: Stuart Kirk/AP/NASA/SFUSD Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared within the June 4, 2022, print version as ‘Roger Angell’s Writing Was in a League of Its Own.’

Source: www.wsj.com

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