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Roger Angell wins the J.G. Taylor Spink Award

Dec 10, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

Roger Angell

The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Roger Angell of the New Yorker as the 2014 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame during the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown next July.

The Spink Award is given for “meritorious contributions to baseball writing.” And Angell certainly provided meritorious contributions. He may be the composer of the most beautiful things ever written about the game, from:

“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”

to:

“A box score is a precisely etched miniature of the sport itself, for baseball, in spite of its grassy spaciousness and apparent unpredictability, is the most intensely and satisfyingly mathematical of all our outdoor sports. Every player in every game is subjected to a cold and ceaseless accounting; no ball is thrown and no base is gained without an instant responding judgment — ball or strike, hit or error, yea or nay — and an ensuing statistic.”

The BBWAA gets a lot of Hall of Fame stuff wrong. This one they knocked out of the park.

 

  1. spudchukar - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    What took so long?

    • natstowngreg - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Just guessing here, but perhaps, because he doesn’t fit the beat writer model. The Spink Award selection committee has tended to honor journalists with long bodies of daily baseball reportage (with some column writing thrown in). Perhaps, it finally dawned on the committee that it had overlooked a more than meritorious contributor to baseball writing.

      Recently, I bought a couple of his books for my Nook(tm), intending to re-read them some day. Now, that day may come sooner than later.

  2. dlf9 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    I love reading Roger Angell’s work and am thrilled that at his advanced age, he still enjoys his trip to the ballpark with a notebook at his side. His anthology Late Innings came out when I was about 14 and it really hooked me on the beauty and poetry of the game. I re-read the essay “In the Web of the Game” every Spring. It is about watching a College World Series game in 1981 while sitting with Smokey Joe Wood, pitching star of the Red Sox in the 1910s and seeing Frank Viola’s St. John’s club win in extra innings when Yale’s Ron Darling lost a no hitter in the 10th frame. Angell was able to weave the past and the future together with such wonderful and evocative language.

    • dlf9 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      Oh yeah … earlier this week, I was reading Angell’s stepfather’s most famous work, Charlotte’s Web, to my niece.

      • Old Gator - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        Angell has written the introduction to the edition of Elements of Style currently in use. Here is an apple that did not roll away from the tree, even if he was only a graft.

        And frankly, I can’t think of any sports writing award that Angell would not deserve to win. He and Bart Giamatti are the Joyce and Proust of modern baseball prose.

  3. moose2k - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Greatly deserved, his baseball articles in the New Yorker and his books are worth reading if you haven’t had the chance to.

  4. dougtucson - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    Has there ever been a better love affair between a writer and baseball? If you love baseball, do yourself a favor and read Angell. If you don’t do books, read his many pieces over the years in the New Yorker.

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