|In Game Time, Roger Angell's essays illuminate baseball's heart and history in careful prose that New Yorker readers have grown to anticipate each spring. The collection spans the forty-plus years of Angell's baseball writing career and includes many of his favorite pieces as well as never-before-published material. |
Rather than stringing the selections together chronologically, the book's editor, Steve Kettmann, groups them by the three seasons of the game—spring, summer, fall. The structure works well to expose the breadth and depth of Angell's writing across the years. As Richard Ford promises in the introduction, "It is by getting those. . . baseball essentials (strategies, nuances, protocols) down onto the page, and cementing the hard foundation without which sporstswriting can't earn your time away from the game itself, that Angell has made his bones."
The downside of this approach, however, is that some selections feel dated or misplaced for readers who did not live through the seasons in question. Many of the rookies scouted or players traded have long since faded into the obscurity. And for essays like "Distance," which profiles pitcher Bob Gibson, placement in "Summer" seems forced, the piece beginning as it does with recollection of Gibson's seventeen strikeout record set in the 1968 World Series.
But these are faults to be expected in a collection that represent the vastness of Angell's contribution to baseball. In Angell, baseball is blessed to have found its perfect fan: literate, humble, and always eager for spring.--Patrick O'Kelley