cover image GAME TIME: A Baseball Companion

GAME TIME: A Baseball Companion

Roger Angell, , edited by Steve Kettmann. . Harcourt, $25 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-15-100824-7

Baseball, a linear game with undulating peaks and valleys, has always attracted more writers than other sports, and of those many writers few have captured the essence of the game better than Angell. This collection of new and previously published writings edited by sports writer Kettmann is a testament to Angell's unquestioned writing skills and love of the game. Chronicling unlikely people and places—a pitcher uneasy in his retirement, a struggling former star, Fenway Park from the bowels of the right-field grandstand, the faceless scout—Angell often eschews the stories in the glare of the spotlight to examine the core values of the national pastime. Like a switch hitter, he deftly commands poetic descriptions (describing Dan Quisenberry's delivery: "a swallowlike, harmless-looking thing that rose abruptly... then changed its mind") and insightful analysis (on records being broken: "this erosion of the game's most famous fixed numbers... makes baseball statistics seem alive and urgent") to create essays that rise and fall like the very action on the field. Unlike many baseball writers who remember watching the likes of Lou Gehrig play at the Polo Grounds, Angell is able to convey his love for the game of yesteryear while still appreciating the stars, achievements and intricacies of the modern game. He manages all of this by not hiding his passion for the sport under the guise of journalistic detachment. On the contrary, he wears his heart on his sleeve, rooting his way through this collection of poignant and personal slices of Americana. (Apr.)