Famed Writer, Editor Was Born to the New Yorker

Roger Angell produced award-winning work from his 20s till his 90s
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2022 3:40 PM CDT
Famed Writer, Editor Was Born to the New Yorker
Roger Angell speaks after receiving the J.G. Taylor Spink Award during a ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 2014.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

(Newser) – Roger Angell, the celebrated baseball writer and reigning man of letters who during an unfaltering 70-plus years helped define the New Yorker’s urbane wit and style through his essays, humor pieces, and editing, has died. He was 101. Angell died Friday of heart failure, according to the New Yorker. "No one lives forever, but you'd be forgiven for thinking that Roger had a good shot at it," Editor David Remnick wrote, per the AP. "Like the rest of us, he suffered pain and loss and doubt, but he usually kept the blues at bay, always looking forward; he kept writing, reading, memorizing new poems, forming new relationships."

Heir to and upholder of the New Yorker’s earliest days, Angell was the son of founding fiction editor Katharine White and stepson of staff writer EB White. He was first published in the magazine in his 20s, during World War II, and was still contributing in his 90s, an improbably youthful man who enjoyed tennis and vodka martinis and regarded his life as "sheltered by privilege and engrossing work, and shot through with good luck." Angell lived up to the standards of his family. He won the BBWAA Career Excellence Award, formerly the JG Taylor Spink Award, for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. His editing alone was a lifetime achievement. Starting in the 1950s, writers he worked with included John Updike, Ann Beattie, Donald Barthelme, and Bobbie Ann Mason, some of whom endured numerous rejections before entering the club of New Yorker authors.

Angell himself acknowledged, unhappily, that even his work didn’t always make the cut. His New Yorker writings later were compiled in several baseball books and in such publications as The Stone Arbor and Other Stories and A Day in the Life of Roger Angell, a collection of his humor pieces. He also edited Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker and for years wrote an annual Christmas poem for the magazine. At age 93, he completed one of his most highly praised essays, the deeply personal This Old Man, winner of a National Magazine Award. "I've endured a few knocks but missed worse," he wrote.

(Read more obituary stories.)

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