The Hall of Fame will celebrate an up-and-comer in the sportswriting field next summer when Roger Angell is given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, given annually to a worthy scribe by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Mr. Angell is 93 and has written a series of well-regarded essays on the sport, my personal favorite being “The Web of the Game’’ about a 1981 St. John’s-Yale game featuring Frank Viola and Ron Darling.
“I was surprised to find out how much secretly I had hoped this would happen because I was very moved, startled and extremely pleased,’’ he said on a conference call after the announcement. “I'm very, very happy and I'm stunned. Old friends and idols have won this award. It's a great honor."
Why the wait? Angell primarily is a magazine and book writer and thus never has been a member of the BBWA. The organization decided this year not to hold that against him.
Here is Angell writing in The New Yorker about Mariano Rivera’s next-to-last appearance in September:
“Mariano came on with one out in the eighth, and surrendered a single but no runs, and along the way gave us still again his eloquent entering run from deep center field; the leaning stare-in with upcocked mitt over his heart; the reposeful pre-pitch pause, with his hands at waist level; and then the burning, bending, famed-in-song-and-story cutter. All these, seen once again, have been as familiar to us as our dad’s light cough from the next room, or the dimples on the back of our once-three-year-old daughter’s hands, but, like those, must now only be recalled.”