NEW YORK – Died Roger Angel, a famous baseball writer and managing writer who for over a steady 70 years has helped define the good-natured wit and style of The New Yorker through his essays, humorous works and editing. He was 101 years old.
Angel died Friday of heart failure, according to The New Yorker.
“No one lives forever, but you will be forgiven if you think Roger made a good shot,” New Yorker editor David Remnick wrote on Friday. “Like all of us, he endured pain, loss, and doubt, but usually kept in fear, always looking ahead; he continued to write, read, memorize new poems, establish new relationships. “
Heir and supporter of the early days of The New Yorker, Angel was the son of fiction editor-in-chief Catherine White and the stepson of longtime staff writer EB White. It was first published in a magazine when he was 20 years old, during World War II, and still invested in his 90s, an incredibly fit and young man who loved tennis and martinis with vodka and considered his life “a sheltered privilege and a fascinating job, and shot for luck. “
Angel lived well by the standards of his famous family. In the past, he has won the BBWAA Career Excellence Award, formerly the J.W. J. Taylor Spink, for her well-deserved contribution to baseball writing, an honor previously received by Red Smith, Ring Lardner and Damon Ranyon. He was the first award winner not to be a member of the organization that votes for it, the Baseball Writers Association of America.
His editing alone was a lifelong achievement. Beginning in the 1950s, when he inherited his mother’s job (and office), the writers he worked with were John Updike, Anne Beatty, Donald Barthelm, and Bobby Ann Mason, some of whom survived numerous rejections before enroll in the New Yorker Special Writers Club. Angel himself, unfortunately, admitted that even his work was not always successful.
“Unlike his colleagues, he is very competitive,” Brendan Gil wrote of Angel in his 1975 memoir Here at the New Yorker. “Any challenge, mental or physical, fascinates him.”
Angel’s recordings in the New Yorker have been collected in several books on baseball and in publications such as “Stone Arbor and Other Stories” and “A Day in the Life of Roger Angel”, a collection of his humorous works. He also edited “Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker” and for many years wrote a Christmas poem for the magazine. At age 93, he completed one of his most highly regarded essays, the deeply personal “This Old Man,” a laureate of the National Journal Award.
“I survived a few blows, but missed worse,” he wrote. “Pain and insults are bearable. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I have learned to send a personal Apache scout forward in the next sentence, one that will be to see if there are any free names or verbs in the scenery above. If he sends a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, well, until something else comes to mind. “
Angel has been married three times, most recently to Margaret Murman. He had three children.
Angel was born in New York City in 1920 to Catherine and Ernest Angel, a lawyer who became head of the American Civil Liberties Union. The New Yorker was founded five years later when Catherine Angel was an editor of fiction, and a young wit named Andy White (so E. B. White was known to his friends) created humorous works.
His parents were gifted and strong, apparently too strong. “What a marriage it must have been,” Roger Angel wrote in his 2006 essay, “Let Me Finish,” “full of sex, glamor, and mental murder, and enduring anxiety.” By 1929, his mother had married the more fragile White, and Angel remembered weekend visits to the apartment of his mother and her new husband, a place “full of laughing, smoking young writers and artists from The New Yorker.”
In high school, he became so fascinated with literature and literary life that one Christmas he asked for a book of poems by A. E. Hausman, a top hat and a bottle of sherry. While in Hawaii during World War II, Angel edited Air Force magazine, and in 1944 appeared his first author in The New Yorker. He was identified as a corporal. Roger Angel, author of the short story “Three Ladies in the Morning,” and his first words that appeared in the magazine: “The downtown hotel restaurant was almost empty at 11:30 a.m.”
There were no signs, at least not open, of family rivalry. White encouraged his stepson to write for the magazine and even recommended it to The New Yorker founder Harold Ross, explaining that Angela “lacks practical experience, but he has it all.” Angel, meanwhile, lovingly wrote about his stepfather. In a 2005 New Yorker essay, he noted that they had been close for nearly 60 years, and recalled that the “sense of home and informal attachment” he received from White’s works was “even stronger than for other readers.”
Not everyone was fascinated by Angel or White Angel’s family ties in The New Yorker. Former staff writer Renata Adler claimed that Angel “established a clear, superficially humorous war with the rest of the magazine.” Complaints about nepotism were unusual, and Tom Wolfe mocked his “cassette” in a magazine where his mother and stepfather were members of the statute. “I’m sure everything is in place,” Wolfe wrote.
Unlike White, best known for his children’s classics Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, Angel never wrote a major novel. But he enjoyed loyal fans thanks to his humor and baseball essays, which put him in a pantheon both among professional sports journalists and with Updike, James Turber, and other literary writers who work part-time. Like Updike, he didn’t change his style of prose for baseball, but demonstrated how well the game fits the mind’s life.
“Baseball is not life itself, although similarities continue to emerge,” Angel wrote in his 1987 essay, La Vida. “It’s probably a good idea to sort out these two issues, but old fans, if they’re like me, can’t help but notice how cunningly our game repeats a bigger schedule with its charming April optimism; merry June rough house; polishing, a serious, endless (probably) mid-summer affair; the September settlement … and then the sudden fall of autumn, when we want – almost demand – a long and brilliant last adventure in front of the curtain ”.
Angel began covering baseball in the early 1960s when The New Yorker sought to expand its readership. Over the following decades, he wrote accurate player profiles, ranging from Bob Gibson’s Hall of Fame to the late Pittsburgh Pirates star Steve Blass, and spoke on everything from manager Casey Stengel’s verbosity (“Walking Pantheon of Challenges”) to Derek’s Miracle. »). He was born a year before the New York Yankees won their first World Series, and his memories of baseball spanned from the heyday of Babe Ruth to 21st century stars such as Jetter, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Although drugs and battles for job management were spreading and even stealing headlines, he thought the real story remained on the playing field. Angel never had official authority as a sports author: he was just a fan, a grateful observer, a former high school pitcher who once aspired to the major leagues.
“At some point when I was over 30 or in my early 40s, I was visiting a psychiatrist and I came in with sleep,” Angel said in an interview with the Associated Press in 1988. “I dreamed that there were bushes and bushes, and there was a tombstone with my name and birthday, and the year I was.
“I took this dream to my psyche with some anxiety and he asked how I was feeling and I said I was sad. He asked me what reminded me of a tombstone, and I said it reminded me of those stones in the center of the field at Yankee Stadium.
“Then I realized it meant the end of my baseball dreams.”
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