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Roger Angell, Who Wrote About Baseball With Passion, Dies at 101


Like his mother, Mr. Angell became a Recent Yorker fiction editor, discovering and nurturing writers, including Ann Beattie, Bobbie Ann Mason and Garrison Keillor. For some time he occupied his mother’s old office — an experience, he told an interviewer, that was “the weirdest thing on this planet.” He also worked closely with writers like Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, Donald Barthelme, Ruth Jhabvala and V.S. Pritchett.

Mr. Angell was known, too, for his annual page-long holiday poem, titled “Greetings, Friends!” The poem, a Recent Yorker tradition, began in 1932 and was originally written by Frank Sullivan. Mr. Angell wrote “Greetings, Friends!” from 1976 until 1998, when it went on hiatus, and restarted it in 2008. In recent times, the poem has been written by Ian Frazier.

In his holiday poems, Mr. Angell mixed the boldface names, from high culture and low, that had filtered through that yr. Here’s a snippet from 1992:

Here’s where hearts grow rife or rifer,
Near Donna Tartt and Michelle Pfeiffer,
With B.B. King and his Lucille,
And Dee Dee Myers and Brian Friel!

A few of his rhymes could possibly be read mischievously. “Yo! Santa man, grab some sky,” he wrote in 1992, “And drop a sock on Robert Bly.”

“I’m unsure there’s ever been a author so strong, and an editor so vital, abruptly, at a magazine for the reason that days of H.L. Mencken running The American Mercury,” David Remnick, The Recent Yorker’s editor, said in an interview for this obituary in 2012. “Roger was a vigorous editor, and an intellect with broad tastes.”

Mr. Angell became a baseball author by accident. He was already a fan in 1962 when, he told an interviewer for Salon, he was asked by William Shawn, the magazine’s editor, to “go right down to spring training and see what you discover.”

It was an auspicious yr to be a young baseball author: the primary season of the Recent York Mets. “They were these terrific losers that Recent York took to its heart,” Mr. Angell said.

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