Roger Angell, longtime writer and truly the poet laureate of baseball, passed away last Friday at the age of 101.
Writing with a fan’s passion and Shakespearean splendor, he achieved literary prominence in the 1970s, when Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine clubs and the intensifying of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry helped elevate the game’s overall quality. Angell’s long-form pieces captured fans who appreciated deftly crafted, cliché-free perspectives of the game.from this MLB.com article.
The piece referenced in the tweet above (and here) is about the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series in nearly a century. I read it last night and, true WordNerd that I am, was blown away by Angell’s command of the English language. “La Rochefoucauld” and “fritillary”? That’s a true All-Star. His style matched the beauty of the game, and his prose could be as majestic as any towering home run.
But he didn’t just cover baseball. A fixture — an icon, though that word is overused — at The New Yorker for three quarters of a century, he wrote Talk of the Town columns, humor essays and the annual holiday poem… and was a stellar editor as well.
Roger Angell cared about his craft, and he heartily endorsed the passion of true fans:
Roger Angell lived to be 101. We may not make it that far into the post-season, but we can certainly try.
“Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.”
Roger Angell in “The Interior Stadium”