Roger Angell Wins Spink Award

December 10, 2013
2014 J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Roger Angell. (The New Yorker)

(COOPERSTOWN, NY) – Roger Angell, a senior editor at The New Yorker magazine who has been writing about baseball for more than 50 years, was elected the 2014 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s induction weekend July 25-28, 2014 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Angell received 258 votes from the 451 ballots, including four blanks, cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service in becoming the 65th winner of the award since its inception in 1962 and named for the first recipient. Spink was a driving force of The Sporting News, known during his lifetime as the “Baseball Bible.”

[Roger Angell Papers]

The late Furman Bisher, who wrote more than 15,000 columns in a 59-year career for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, received 115 votes. Mel Durslag, a retired nationally syndicated columnist who spent more than half a century chronicling sports in southern California, got 74. 

The candidates were selected by a three-member, BBWAA-appointed committee and announced during the All-Star Game meeting July 16 in New York. Voting was conducted in November through a mail ballot, a process that began in 2002.

Angell, 93, is the first winner of the award who was never a member of the BBWAA, which limits its membership to writers covering Major League Baseball for daily newspapers, wire services and some Internet outlets. The Spink Award is not limited to BBWAA members, however. Roger was nominated for the award by the San Francisco-Oakland Chapter. Many of the native New Yorker’s numerous Sporting Scene pieces are found in his best-selling books that include The Summer Game (1972), Five Seasons (1977), Late Innings (1982), Season Ticket (1988), Once More Around the Park (1991), A Pitcher’s Story (2001) and Game Time (2003).

Roger wrote revealing profiles of remote superstar Bob Gibson and the mysteriously afflicted Steve Blass. He spoke to 23 players for a 1981 analysis on hitting, One Tough Way to Make a Living. In his 1971 piece, The Interior Stadium, Angell wrote: “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.”

Among Angell’s classic essays was The Web of the Game, an account of watching a college pitching duel between Ron Darling of Yale and Frank Viola of St. John’s in the company of Smokey Joe Wood. Angell won the inaugural Pen/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing in 2011 and is a former winner of the George Polk Award for Commentary. A long-term vice president of the Authors Guild, Roger was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.  

Previous Spink Award Recipients

2013 Paul Hagen; 2012 Bob Elliott; 2011 Bill Conlin; 2010 Bill Madden; 2009 Nick Peters; 2008 Larry Whiteside; 2006 Rick Hummel; 2005 Tracy Ringolsby; 2004 Peter Gammons; 2003 Murray Chass; 2002 Hal McCoy; 2001 Joe Falls; 2000 Ross Newhan; 1999 Hal Lebovitz; 1998 Bob Stevens; 1997 Sam Lacy; 1996 Charley Feeney; 1995 Joseph Durso; 1994 No award; 1993 Wendell Smith; 1992 Leonard Koppett, Bus Saidt; 1991 Ritter Collett; 1990 Phil Collier; 1989 Jerome Holtzman; 1988 Bob Hunter, Ray Kelly; 1987 Jim Murray; 1986 Jack Lang; 1985 Earl Lawson; 1984 Joe McGuff; 1983 Ken Smith; 1982 Si Burick; 1981 Bob Addie, Allen Lewis; 1980 Joe Reichler, Milton Richman; 1979 Bob Broeg, Tommy Holmes; 1978 Tim Murnane, Dick Young; 1977 Gordon Cobbledick, Edgar Munzel; 1976 Harold Kaese, Red Smith; 1975 Tom Meany, Shirley Povich; 1974 John Carmichael, James Isaminger; 1973 Warren Brown, John Drebinger, John F. Kieran; 1972 Dan Daniel, Fred Lieb, J. Roy Stockton; 1971 Frank Graham; 1970 Heywood C. Broun; 1969 Sid Mercer; 1968 H.G. Salsinger; 1967 Damon Runyon; 1966 Grantland Rice; 1965 Charles Dryden; 1964 Hugh Fullerton; 1963 Ring Lardner; 1962 J.G. Taylor Spink.