In a career spanning more than six decades, Roger Angell entertained readers with his elegant language and inspired storytelling surrounding the National Pastime.
Angell was the first winner of the Spink 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 web outlets. The Spink Award is not limited to BBWAA members, however.
Born Sept. 19, 1920 in New York City, Angell’s mother – Katharine Sergeant Angell White – was the first fiction editor of The New Yorker magazine. His father, Ernest Angell, was a lawyer and head of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Roger Angell attended Harvard University and began working for The New Yorker as an editor in 1956. In 1962, the magazine sent Angell to Spring Training to write about baseball – and it proved to be a perfect match of author and subject.
“(Baseball) never fails. It’s just astounding … every time it just takes your breath away,” Angell said. “You can just rely on it that something is going to happen you don’t expect.”
In 1972, Angell authored “The Summer Game” – a look at how baseball influences the American psyche and its hold on fans across the globe through stories on the teams and their players. It remains one of the most beloved volumes in the history of the National Pastime.
As for writers who influenced him, Angell credited his stepfather E.B. White, a famed essayist with The New Yorker, and Red Smith, a 1976 recipient of the Spink Award.
2014 J.G. Taylor Spink Award Winner Roger Angell (National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)