Roger Angell Paul Gray - Essay

Paul Gray

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Angell is a formidable humorist. Yet he sees all the current tinkering with baseball as no laughing matter. He imagines a time when the World Series will be totally surrendered to television, transported to some domed stadium, and made the excuse for a week of canned spectaculars. If network and baseball moguls have not already dreamed up this plan, they will now. Angell protests: "We are trying to conserve something that seems as intricate and lovely to us as any river valley….

True fans need no convincing. They can read Five Seasons for remembrances of games, pennant races and World Series past, for another chance to think about their beloved sport under the tutelage of an expert….

Angell's style neatly complements the balance, pace and mathematical exactitudes of the game he celebrates. He does not throw many high, hard ones; he favors the change of pace, the roundhouse curve. (p. 95)

Five Seasons contains leisurely off-the-diamond reporting: Angell travels through the hinterlands with a major league scout, a species of rugged individualist now threatened by cooperative head-hunting and centralized data banks. He visits three hyperfans of the Detroit Tigers and comes up with a deft report on the joys of obsession. He spends time with Steve Blass, a top pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates until, during the winter of 1972, he inexplicably lost the knack of getting batters out....

(The entire section is 415 words.)