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Roger Angell, baseball writing great, dies at age 101

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The 2009 New Yorker Festival: THE MOTH “Tales Out of School” Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Roger Angell died at age 101 on Friday. The Hall of Fame baseball writer, captured fandom quite well in a 1977 book, excerpted by Dwight Garner in Angell’s New York Times obituary:

“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,” he wrote in his book “Five Seasons” (1977). “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.”

Lindsey Adler at The Athletic wrote, “Angell’s baseball writing was curious, passionate, and often an eerily faithful reflection of how it feels to watch the game and the players that bring it to life.”

Angell wrote and edited for The New Yorker for over 70 years. Said David Remnick: “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.”

Emma Baccellieri at Sports Illustrated wrote, “Angell understood just why people watched baseball and just why people wanted to read about it. He knew what made the game important alongside what made it anything but. And he understood all of this because he lived all of this: Roger Angell was a baseball fan.”

In September 2020, when Angell turned 100, Bill Thompson said this at Beyond The Box Score: “Angell had a habit of making the simplest of moments seem like it was more than that. The reason for this was always the love he had for the game being played.”

Angell’s SABR biography was written by Steve Treder, who said of Angell, “He is, perhaps, the most exquisitely talented writer ever to focus sustained attention on the subject of baseball.”

Other stuff

Adam Conover ran the Los Angeles Marathon, and wrote at Defector how Frank McCourt’s family charity, which runs the event, has turned the marathon into a crass profit center with a disturbing course change to boot.

Former Brooklyn Dodgers third baseman Billy Cox was a subject of one of the stories this week on The Infinite Inning, Steven Goldman’s excellent podcast.