THE SUMMER GAME by Roger Angell
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Beginning with spring training in March 1962, Roger Angell, fiction editor for The New Yorker, started writing casually about baseball ""at a distance and in retrospect,"" unhampered by the daily sportswriter's continuous race with the deadline. These pieces, all published originally in The New Yorker, are the result -- a decade's worth of meditations and observations on the metaphysics of the game which will spellbind the connoisseur and surely engage the average literate fan. For Angell, the quintessential reality of baseball is that there's always ""something more to be discovered."" He's intrigued by the geometries of the game, the pitcher on the mound holding ""the inert white ball, his little lump of physics"" while the batter, ""wielding a plane, attempts to intercept the line""; and its mathematical lineaments, the box score for example is ""not only informative, pictorial, and gossipy but lovely in aesthetic structure."" And Angell's commentary on the 1962-71 pennant races and World Series is as sharp as a curve that breaks perfectly at the letters: the Dodgers' Maury Wills is ""a skinny, lizard-quick base runner""; the incomparable Koufax didn't merely overpower hitters, he ""dismantled"" them; Rico Petrocelli was ""subject to fatal spells of introspection when approaching ground balls""; pitcher Lolich worked ""like a man opening a basket of cobras""; the Yaz of '67 suffered ""all the prizes and ugly burdens we force on the victims of celebrity."" Occasionally Angell becomes waspish (he scorns the franchise-hopping greed of some owners and sneers at Judge Hofheinz's Astrodome and its artificial turf -- ""I had the sudden feeling that if I unzipped it, I might uncover the world's first plastic worm""), but usually he's searching for the Higher Game, the cosmology behind each pitch, each swing, each ""shared joy and ridiculous hope"" of summer's long adventure.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1972
ISBN: 0803259514
Publisher: Viking