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[At 93, he is older than the dead-ball-era pitcher Smoky Joe Wood was when Angell described him as “the old man to my left” at Yale Field in 1981. He and Wood watched a pitchers’ duel between Ron Darling of Yale and Frank Viola of St. John’s, preserved in his article “The Web of the Game”; late in the game, he realized that he was yet another person to have exhausted Wood’s memories./quote]
Roger Angell goes into the Hall of Fame
Great to hear it, but Jesus, did they ever take their sweet time about it.
When I ask him if the Jacques Barzun quote “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball” was outmoded, he scoffs: “I didn’t write about baseball because I was looking for the heart and soul of America. I don’t care if baseball is the national pastime or not. The thing about baseball is, it’s probably the hardest game to play. The greatest hitters are only succeeding a third of the time. If you take a great athlete who’s never played baseball and put him in the infield, he’s lost.”
Could soccer ever take over as the national pastime? “I don’t know,” he replied. “I felt I was being waterboarded by The New York Times with the World Cup.”
“Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame,” he said, expressing sympathy for players who get worn down playing every day. “There’s been a lot of cheating, if you want to call it that, particularly about home runs,” he said. “If Ted Williams had had a short right field in Fenway Park, he would have been much better than Babe Ruth, probably.”
We drop by a Ralph Lauren store. He wants to buy a cotton sweater for Cooperstown but doesn’t see anything he likes. “It’s hard to be old and shop,” he says. “The sales staff is probably terrified that I’m changing the age demographic. And I’m no longer sure what I want.”
He said the instructions for Cooperstown were “like D-Day,” but noted mordantly, “Anything I do is O.K. because they’ll say, ‘He’s old. What do you expect? He’s 93. He’s hopeless.’ ”
Angell gave a really nice speech
Tell it to President John Tyler's two living grandsons!
My Grandfather has a baseball signed by Angell, Updike, John Cheever, and Richard Yates. Its one of the single coolest things I've seen.
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