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Roger Angell (1920–2022)

Författare till The Summer Game

19+ verk 2,369 medlemmar 32 recensioner 12 favoritmärkta

Om författaren

Roger Angell lives in New York City. (Bowker Author Biography)
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Verk av Roger Angell

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From 2022:
Roger Angell is, or rather was, a celebrated Baseball writer who did most of his writing from the fan’s perspective. This book had been on my reading list for probably 10 years or so and it took me this long to get to it. Which says something about how long my reading list is and why I haven’t read that one book you recommended to me a couple years ago yet. What made The Summer Game so surprisingly interesting to me was that a good portion of it deals with the first few seasons of the Baltimore Orioles as they try to patch together a contending team. For me, the book shadowed my experience of becoming a shiny new real fan of baseball and the Orioles this year. I picked them randomly based on a completely subjective set of criteria and what I accidentally got in return was a surprising club that looked to be on the rise at last. I knew none of this at the time, of course, but neither did Angell realize what Baltimore was going to do with their seasons at the time he wrote about them. So, in that way the book was a pleasing echo.… (mer)
Fiddleback_ | 11 andra recensioner | May 28, 2024 |
Summary: A collection of essays covering the 1982 to 1987 seasons, from spring training to the drama of the championships, and all the skills of players and managers and owners required to compete at the major league level.

“Don’t you know how hard this all is?”

If there is a theme to this installment of Roger Angell’s articles on baseball, it is the conversations Angell has with different players and even an owner, all that illustrate what a challenge it is to do every aspect of Major League Baseball well. A number of the essays recount the answers of players and coaches to the question of “How do you do what you do?” What does it take to catch well for example. The biggest part is working with pitchers, yet the all stars are always the ones who hit. They may not be the best at their work with pitchers. We learn how a catcher must in a single motion catch, stand, and throw to have any hope of catching a base-stealing runner.

He takes us through the infield and the particular demands of each position. We learn what a mental game playing first base is. So much at every position is positioning for each batter, knowing your pitcher. He spends a good deal of his time with Dave Concepcion, a short stop star of the ’80s, learning about how he learned to make the long throw on a hop to first base on artificial turf because it was actually faster.

Included is an article on Dan Quisenberrry, a submarine ball relief pitcher for the Royals. We catch him at his peak in 1985 when he was nearly unhittable. We learn about everything from how he learned the motion, which is actually far easier on the pitching arm than throwing overhand to the aggressive mindset of relief pitchers. We learn about his repertoire of pitches and the attitude of flexibility of being prepared to pitch in any game that comes with relief pitching. In later articles, we also see Quisenberry’s decline, particularly after Dick Howser stepped down. The chemistry was never the same.

And then, of course, there is hitting and all the little things that go into hitting well, and as one of the best, Ted Williams says, how hard it is. We learn that basically batters want to hit a fastball. We get all the little nuances of bat weight, stance, grip on the bat, and swing, and how easy it is to get out of the groove.

Then there are the players. In this period he covers the last game of Carl Yastrzemski, the great Boston player, Jim Kaat, after a twenty year career as a pitcher, and Johnny Bench, all who played their last in 1983. We have the account of Pete Rose’s 4192nd hit, surpassing Ty Cobb, and the comparison showing how superior Cobb’s accomplishment was in far less games at a higher batting average. Rose just kept playing. Then there are the young pitchers of the era, Dwight Gooden and Bret Saberhagen in particularly.

As always, Angell seems at his best in recounting championships, in this case in particular, the 1986 Red Sox-Mets World Series and particularly the disappointing Red Sox loss that turned the tide in the fifth game. Then there is the amazing 1984 Tigers team with all their hitting, power, and speed, which finally buried the Padres.

Angell covers the rise of drug use among players, the advent of drug testing, and some of the great players who got ensnared in cocaine use. The sad thing was that apart from a few teams, the emphasis seemed less on rehabilitation and more on “gotcha.” He writes about all the pressures and temptations that came with the big money of this era.

The book ends at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown during a Hall of Fame induction. By the time Angell was done, I found myself mentally adding Cooperstown to my bucket list. He writes, “The artifacts and exhibits in the Hall remind us, vividly and with feeling, of our hopes for bygone seasons and players. Memories are jogged, even jolted; colors become brighter, and we laugh or sigh, remembering the good times gone by.”

Angell captures the fleeting wonder of the game and how amazing the players who perform at a high level for ten years or more. It is indeed hard to do so well, and hard on bodies, especially as they age. The arc from spring to autumn, both of seasons and careers in some way is a parable of the fleeting nature of our lives, as well as the glory of our existence.
… (mer)
BobonBooks | May 15, 2023 |
I was looking for a light, fun, eminently readable summer book, and this one really fit the bill. This one contains fond, well-written portraits of Angell's parents, his famous stepfather, and his editors and his co-workers at the New Yorker. It's got digressions on some of his favorite things, which include baseball, martinis, the automobile, the movies, sailing, and golf. We hear about what it was like to travel in Europe before the airplane flooded the continent with tourists and what it was like to spend summers in Maine during the Depression. We hear about the author's creditable but bloodless military career in the Second World War and about how he went from being a wannabe writer to being a real-deal writer and how E.B. White went from being a real-deal writer to being a real-deal farmer. Although Angell's rolodex wasn't nearly as extensive as Truman Capote's, we hear about a lot of other notable twentieth century writers and personalities, many of whom got to know in their off-hours as they hung around or passed through New York and others that he personally published and edited. We hear, in short, about an pleasant, interesting, privileged, and extraordinarily lengthy life. Angell tells the stories he's got to tell very well. it's not for nothing that his mother's second husband was the man who gave us "The Elements of Style": his prose is economical, direct, precise, and elegant. I suspect that while writing these pieces he was becoming one of the last individuals in a generation that was slowly sliding out of view. When writing on cars, or going to the ballgame, or corresponding with his New Yorker colleagues, he seems to want to give the reader a sense of how certain things were done before a cascade of technological advances changed them irrevocably. Angell's hardly a nostalgist -- it's clear that he's given some thought to how memory can be, by turns, both true and tricky. But as I read "Let Me Finish," I sort of started to think of the author as a kind of last witness, and I wonder if he did, too. We're talking about a guy, after all, who saw the Giants play at the Polo Grounds and regularly went to lunch with William Shawn on the way to becoming a centenarian. Frankly, I'm just glad that he got it all down on paper, and that he did it so well.

I suppose I should warn readers that, if it wasn't already obvious, "Let Me Finish" is a book for a certain type of reader. Angell is responsible as anyone for the New Yorker's literary and cultural aesthetic, and readers who don't much cotton to that erudite, cosmopolitan, expensively educated, and left-leaning worldview should probably steer clear of this one altogether. To give the man some credit, Angell has no illusions about the role that money and privilege played in his life, and he doesn't dwell on it or get defensive. He was born something of a New York Brahmin and spent time as both a free-spirited a boho private school kid and an Ivy Leaguer. But it's hard to get away from the fact that many of the experiences he relates in "Let Me Finish" are fairly exclusive to the caste which the author belonged. Even so, Angell works to impress upon the reader that money and connections can only protect you from so much. This point is emphasized in the book's last, and perhaps best, essay, "Hard Lines," in which the author tells us about a good friend of his who died young, leaving behind two daughters. Nor is this an aberration, exactly: at other points, we hear about schoolmates lost in the War, friends lost to drink, and a surprising number of divorces and remarriages. "Hard lines," we learn was a college-kid phrase he once used to telegraph that it's usually best to just bear up and get on with it. The author wrote and edited, and, perhaps most importantly, just got on with it for a hundred years. This isn't exactly a heavy read, but it is, in its own small way, an intelligent and inspiring one.
… (mer)
TheAmpersand | 7 andra recensioner | Feb 16, 2023 |
A random collection of letters, stories, and essays only a handful about baseball. It has that New York feel.
Castinet | 1 annan recension | Dec 11, 2022 |



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