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The Summer Game (Bison Book) by Roger Angell
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The Summer Game (Bison Book) (original 1972; edition 2004)

by Roger Angell (Author)

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324963,434 (4.32)16
A classic collection of early sportswriting by renowned reporter Roger Angell Acclaimed New Yorker writer Roger Angell's first book on baseball, The Summer Game, originally published in 1972, is a stunning collection of his essays on the major leagues, covering a span of ten seasons. Angell brilliantly captures the nation's most beloved sport through the 1960s, spanning both the winning teams and the horrendous losers, and including famed players Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, and more. With the panache of a seasoned sportswriter and the energy of an avid baseball fan, Angell's sports journalism is an insightful and compelling look at the great American pastime.… (more)
Member:yulischeidt
Title:The Summer Game (Bison Book)
Authors:Roger Angell (Author)
Info:Bison Books (2004), Edition: Reprint, 303 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:to-read

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The Summer Game by Roger Angell (1972)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Absolutely love this book. Angell writes with a "you are there" immediacy that captivated me from the first page. ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
I always try to read a baseball book in February. Down in Florida and Arizona, spring training is underway as players prepare for the season. Likewise, reading about the sport is sort of my version of getting into shape for the season. And there just is no baseball writer better suited to rekindling a fan's love with baseball than Roger Angell.

Angell, longtime fiction editor of The New Yorker and frequent contributor of articles about baseball to that magazine, is a splendid writer regardless of the subject, but his unabashed love for the game imbues his essays with an elegance and insight that is rare. Today more than ever, there is no shortage of coverage of your favorite team or sport, but no one can both clearly describe the action, explain it, and elevate it above the mundane like Angell.

The Summer Game pulls together essays Angell wrote between 1962 and 1972. There's an essay from nearly every World Series during that span, including the Amazin' Mets who went from their founding season in 1962 (when they lost 120 games) to winning the World Series just seven years later. The 1960s were a time of great upheaval and chance for baseball — the league expanded from 16 teams to 24, the season expanded from 154 games to 162, the playoffs expanded from just the World Series to add a preliminary round of games, television began to dominate the coverage and change the way the game was played and watched (the first night World Series game was played in 1971; in 2015 every game was played at night), new stadiums were built with all the charm of tin cans, players were on the cusp of gaining free agency and million-dollar salaries. Angell chronicles each of these changes with thoughtful clarity and consideration; the book is worth reading strictly for this historical record of a tumultuous decade but Angell's writing makes it so much more than that.

Of course, I can't make such a claim and expect you all to take my word for it, so here are some examples of his mastery.

Sometimes Angell tackles the "big picture", as when he wrote in 1966 about the first-ever domed stadium, the Houston Astrodome, and the unwelcome introduction of the big flashy scoreboard that is now ubiquitous:

Baseball’s clock ticks inwardly and silently, and a man absorbed in a ball game is caught in a slow, green place of removal and concentration and in a tension that is screwed up slowly and ever more tightly with each pitcher’s windup and with the almost imperceptible forward lean and little half-step with which the fielders accompany each pitch. Whatever the place of the particular baseball game we are watching, whatever its outcome, it holds us in its own continuum and mercifully releases us from our own. Any persistent effort to destroy this unique phenomenon, to “use up” baseball’s time with planned distractions, will in fact transform the sport into another mere entertainment and thus hasten its descent to the status of a boring and stylized curiosity.

But he didn't always write on such an abstract level. Describing a 1962 spring training game in Florida, A watery wash of indigo clouds hung lower and lower over the field during batting practice, deepening the greens of the box-seat railings, the infield grass, and the tall hedges in center field, and for a time the field, a box of light in the surrounding darkness, resembled an aquarium full of small, oddly darting gray and white fish.

He was there in 1962 when the New York Mets played their first season, and he marveled at the way jaded New Yorkers embraced a team that lost 120 out of 154 games:

It seemed statistically unlikely that there could be, even in New York, a forty- or fifty-thousand-man audience made up exclusively of born losers — leftover Landon voters, collectors of mongrel puppies, owners of stock in played-out gold mines — who had been waiting years for a suitably hopeless cause.

Even his play-by-play game descriptions were a level above the ordinary:

But no lead and no pitcher was safe for long on this particular evening; the hits flew through the night air like enraged deer flies, and the infielders seemed to be using their gloves mostly in self-defense.

And he had a knack for describing players that made you feel they were standing right in front of you, like Detroit Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich: He pitched the first two innings like a man defusing a live bomb, working slowly and unhappily, and studying the problem at length before each new move.

Or Tommie Agee of the Mets: I’ll bet that a lot of local Little Leaguers have begun imitating Agee’s odd batting mannerism — a tiny kick of the left leg that makes him look like a house guest secretly discouraging the family terrier.

Or Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dick Hall: Dick Hall is a Baltimore institution, like crab cakes. He is six feet six and one-half inches tall and forty years old, and he pitches with an awkward, sidewise motion that suggests a man feeling under his bed for a lost collar stud. … Hall is almost bald; he has ulcers, a degree in economics from Swarthmore, a Mexican wife, four children, and an off-season job as a certified public accountant; and he once startled his bullpen mates by trying to estimate mathematically how many drops of rain were falling on the playing field during a shower.

Maybe I didn't need Angell to make me fall in love with baseball all over again this spring. But I can't imagine a better companion for the season to come. ( )
  rosalita | Feb 24, 2016 |
Few works of art are truly timeless. Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” Beethoven’s Fifth. Michelangelo’s David. Add to that list Angell’s “The Summer Game.” The book, a collection of essays Angell originally penned for “New Yorker” magazine in the 1960s and early 1970s, recreates an era both nostalgic and immediate. Long retired superstars like Jim Palmer, Denny McLain, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Wille McCovey, Wille Stargell, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver, and Jerry Koosman—to name just a few—come back to life in these pages. And Angell is so skilled at describing the action and nuance of each game and each play that the reader is transported to the action. Angell puts you in the stands right next to him.

Angell’s writing reveals his love of the language as much as it showcases his love of the game of baseball. For example, while discussing the Pittsburgh Pirates’ propensity for populating their pitching staff with monosyllabically named hurlers, he writes, “This year’s Buccos recklessly disposed of Mudcat Grant, but with Blass, Briles, Moose, Lamb, and Veale still on hand (I plan an extensive footnote on this startling incursion of ungulates), and the club’s coffers now heavy with championship loot, they can easily swing a deal for Vida Blue that should bring them safely through the seventies.” I know of no other writer past or present who talks about baseball with such wit and skill.

Angell appreciates baseball’s enduring paradox—a game that seems so simple is rife with endless possibilities for complexity. And despite the sport’s evolution (during the time when Angell wrote these pieces, both leagues were undergoing expansion, and divisional play—along with league playoff series—had recently been adopted), the game on the field remains familiar and pure (PEDs notwithstanding). If you love baseball, read this book, and lose yourself in the sublime. ( )
  jimrgill | Mar 8, 2015 |
This is a book that is a memoir and meditation on "America" combining the author's musings with a history of baseball in the 1960's.
It is superior sports reporting, on a par with Liebling's "The Sweet Science." ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 15, 2014 |
MLB during the 60s and 70s.
  neh35 | Aug 6, 2013 |
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A classic collection of early sportswriting by renowned reporter Roger Angell Acclaimed New Yorker writer Roger Angell's first book on baseball, The Summer Game, originally published in 1972, is a stunning collection of his essays on the major leagues, covering a span of ten seasons. Angell brilliantly captures the nation's most beloved sport through the 1960s, spanning both the winning teams and the horrendous losers, and including famed players Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, and more. With the panache of a seasoned sportswriter and the energy of an avid baseball fan, Angell's sports journalism is an insightful and compelling look at the great American pastime.

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Angell takes a look at MLB during the 60s though the 70s , a time of expansion, Mets, Astros. To baseball in Canada (Expos). the era of Willie Mays, Koufax, Seaver, and Clemente
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