Roger Angell, often described as the poet laureate of baseball and certainly one of the most elegant and lovingly evocative writers ever to report and opine about the game, doing so for The New Yorker since 1962, has passed away. He was 101.
Angell - whose mother, Katharine Sergeant Angell White, began working at The New Yorker as an editor in 1925 - published his first piece in the magazine in 1944, and went to work there full-time in 1956. In addition to writing for The New Yorker, he also served as the magazine's fiction editor.
In a lovely remembrance over the weekend, current editor David Remnick wrote that "in recent years, as his odometer headed toward triple digits, Roger Angell became known around our office for the way his cheerful longevity complemented his talent. He was not only the greatest of baseball writers; he had also lived long enough to see Babe Ruth, of the Yankees, at one end of his life and Shohei Ohtani, of the Angels, at the other."
Remnick wrote "longevity was actually quite low on his list of accomplishments. He did as much to distinguish The New Yorker as anyone in the magazine’s nearly century-long history. His prose and his editorial judgment left an imprint that’s hard to overstate. Like Ruth and Ohtani, he was a freakishly talented double threat, a superb writer and an invaluable counsel to countless masters of the short story. He won a place in both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in the Baseball Hall of Fame - a unique distinction … On the page, Roger created—he threw—a voice that was utterly joyful, as buoyant as a lottery winner. He hated the poetical and the hard-bitten.
"The Roger Angell of the baseball pieces was a man at liberty, delighted to be in the stands on a long-shadowed afternoon, part of a vast community of fans. The sentences were ebullient but never decorous. His enthusiasm for baseball was so immense that it could not be confined to a singular loyalty. In a given season, he was capable of giving his heart to anyone. He was a Mets fan, a Yankees fan, and a Red Sox fan. In anyone else, this would have been unforgivable."