Roger Angell Turns One Hundred

Photograph by Neilson Barnard / Getty In March, 1944, The New Yorker published a very short story called “Three Ladies in the Mornin...


Photograph by Neilson Barnard / Getty

In March, 1944, The New Yorker published a very short story called “Three Ladies in the Morning.” The author’s byline, which came at the end of the piece in those days, was “Cpl. Roger Angell.” Between then and now, a blink of an eye, that same corporal became a generalissimo, a writer, and an editor supremo. And, on September 19th, we’ll put a hundred candles on his cake. Happy birthday, Rog!

Roger’s accomplishment as a writer and his contributions to The New Yorker have been wondrously wide-ranging. As the magazine’s fiction editor, he nurtured talents as varied as William Trevor, Ann Beattie, and Donald Barthelme. As our birthday mini-anthology makes plain, he is an every-position player. Over the decades, he has published light verse, palindromes, humor pieces, Talk pieces, Profiles, short stories, book reviews, and personal essays. He was also, for a stint, the fill-in movie critic at The New Yorker, instantly becoming the favorite of the famously grumpy director Jean-Luc Godard.

Above all, Roger Angell is best known as the bard of baseball; he was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, in 2014—alongside his pal and source, Joe Torre. He had a long career in the press box. Around the time the Beatles were still playing the Cavern Club, Roger set off for Florida to cover his first spring training. In those days, the players and managers were willing to spend hours explaining the intricacies of the game to a sympathetic listener. And that is what Roger did—at Fenway and Shea, in the Bronx and Chavez Ravine: he listened. And Roger, a person as complicated as any other, created a fan’s voice, a joyous voice, full of exclamation and wonder. He has always been an ace describer who could portray the great Red Sox starter Luis Tiant “wheeling and rotating on the mound like a figure in a Bavarian clock tower.” One thing seems almost unfair: as we celebrate our friend this week, we, his readers, get the best gifts. And some of the very best—some of the best of Roger Angell—is right here.


Photograph by Mark Rucker / Transcendental Graphics / Getty

Boyhood memories of baseball.


How do you get published in The New Yorker? After six thousand stories in print and a few hundred thousand rejections, our fiction editors are still looking for the answer.


Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe

Life in the nineties.


Photograph from AP / Shutterstock

In 1973, Steve Blass was an extremely successful and useful big-league pitcher. Then baseball suddenly stopped being fun for him.


The author’s début short story in The New Yorker, about two women who encounter a surprising scene over their morning coffee at a hotel restaurant.


For E. B. White’s readers and family, a sense of trust came easily.


The game belongs to Bob Gibson.


Photograph by Ruven Afanador

The ultimate cocktail, down cold.


“Fair readers, hail! Now here’s a teaser:
Who’s this pale, familiar geezer
Appearing through the mists of time
Atop a tow’r of creaky rhyme?”

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Newsrust: Roger Angell Turns One Hundred
Roger Angell Turns One Hundred
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