Roger Angell, a senior editor at The New Yorker magazine who has been writing about baseball for more than 50 years, was elected the 2014 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s induction weekend July 25-28, 2014 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Angell received 258 votes from the 451 ballots, including four blanks, cast by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years’ service in becoming the 65th winner of the award since its inception in 1962 and named for the first recipient. Spink was a driving force of The Sporting News, known during his lifetime as the “Baseball Bible.”
The late Furman Bisher, who wrote more than 15,000 columns in a 59-year career for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, received 115 votes. Mel Durslag, a retired nationally syndicated columnist who spent more than half a century chronicling sports in southern California, got 74.
The candidates were selected by a three-member, BBWAA-appointed committee and announced during the All-Star Game meeting July 16 in New York. Voting was conducted in November through a mail ballot, a process that began in 2002.
Angell, 93, is the first winner of the award who was never a member of the BBWAA, which limits its membership to writers covering Major League Baseball for daily newspapers, wire services and some Internet outlets. The Spink Award is not limited to BBWAA members, however. Roger was nominated for the award by the San Francisco-Oakland Chapter. Many of the native New Yorker’s numerous Sporting Scene pieces are found in his best-selling books that include The Summer Game (1972), Five Seasons (1977), Late Innings (1982), Season Ticket (1988), Once More Around the Park (1991), A Pitcher’s Story (2001) and Game Time (2003).
Roger wrote revealing profiles of remote superstar Bob Gibson and the mysteriously afflicted Steve Blass. He spoke to 23 players for a 1981 analysis on hitting, One Tough Way to Make a Living. In his 1971 piece, The Interior Stadium, Angell wrote: “Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.”
Among Angell’s classic essays was The Web of the Game, an account of watching a college pitching duel between Ron Darling of Yale and Frank Viola of St. John’s in the company of Smokey Joe Wood. Angell won the inaugural Pen/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing in 2011 and is a former winner of the George Polk Award for Commentary. A long-term vice president of the Authors Guild, Roger was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.