Roger Angell, often described as baseball’s poet laureate, passed away on May 20 at the age of 101.
A member of the Authors Guild since 1971 and an Honorary Member of the AG Council, Angell served two stints as Guild Vice President in 1975–81 and 1984–89. Angell’s life was intrinsically linked with The New Yorker: He was five years old when his mother, Katharine Sergeant Angell White, became one of the magazine’s first editors in 1925, and his stepfather, E.B. White, would publish more than 1,800 essays for it. Angell himself published his first short story for The New Yorker in 1944 when he was just twenty-two years old. He joined the magazine as a fiction editor and staff writer in 1956, where he launched the careers of Bobbie Ann Mason, Garrison Keiller, and Ann Beattie. He also became legendary for writing The New Yorker’s annual, page-long holiday poem, “Greetings, Friends!”
Angell had long been a baseball fan due to his father’s influence. Ernest Angell, a semi-pro pitcher before he became a lawyer, raised Angell after his parents divorced. It wasn’t until 1962, however, when New Yorker Editor William Shawn asked him to travel down to Florida to cover spring training for the New York Mets’ inaugural season, that Angell began reporting about baseball. He would go on to write a weekly column for more than 40 years.
In 2014, Angell became the first person to win the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Career Excellence Award, then known as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, and be recognized in the Baseball Hall of Fame without ever being a member of the BBWAA. In 2015, at the age of 94, Angell published his 11th book, This Old Man, a collection of essays, holiday poems, and other writings.
Some of his other books are Stone Arbor (1960), A Day in the Life of Roger Angell (1970), Five Seasons (1977), Late Innings (1982), Once More Around the Park (1991), and the memoir Let Me Finish (2006). According to The New York Times, David Remnick, the current New Yorker Editor, described Angell as a “strong writer, an editor of great influence and an intellect of broad tastes.”
We extend our condolences to his widow Margaret Moorman, son John Henry, stepdaughter Emma Quaytman, three granddaughters, and two great-granddaughters. His two daughters, Callie and Alice, have already passed.
Mourners and admirers can read some of his work in the New Yorker’s tribute to Roger Angell.
Note: This post has been updated to correct the name of Angell's New Yorker editor, William Shawn.