DR Bahlman: Roger Angell’s work brings baseball home | Columnist

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WILLIAMSTOWN – My life in the sports world can be described by one of my favorite words: inept.

Looking back, I feel a little – but honestly – sorry for a coach who has high expectations for a kid who stands higher than the group and seems to be able to understand the “basics” of the game being researched, just down the line. be incompetence in the field, field or track.

The basketball coach at Mount Greylock Regional High School in my time was in the late 1960s as the first to experience this whipsaw effect. Russ Pickering does what a good coach should do in such a situation: demonstrate, encourage and demonstrate again. I’ve since learned that patience is the key to success in this work, and it’s clear Pickering owns an enormous store of it.

(How much was left after trying to teach me how to dribble a basketball correctly, of course anyone, but he gave me the highest score for the effort.)

The problem became obvious early on: I didn’t coordinate. The “pump” of the ball is rarely continued over the first few steps before one of my oversized legs kicks a solid kick, sending the ball in the general direction of the basketball.

Pickering, limited somewhat by the need to stay within the curriculum / schedule, did what he could in the time available, but the conclusion was inevitable: A kid’s basketball player wasn’t. Apparently she wasn’t a square dancer, but another day.

The embarrassing display of klutzery marks the exploration of early football (I once ran the wrong way), ice hockey (backward skating is absolutely beyond me) and baseball (the safest position for me is manager, and I can’t be trusted. Too far with the job) .)

Sign Angell

Then, in the early 1970s, I grabbed a copy of The New Yorker magazine and read an article about baseball written by Roger Angell.

I’m hooked. Angell, who died last week at age 101, added a dimension to sports writing that brought the Great American Pastime to a colorful and detailed canvas decorated with clarity and simplicity. Angell’s writing style is friendly. He never went to college. His work aims to show, not tell, and each time reach a target. He is, for fans of all levels of devotion, a smart, intelligent and funny friend in the game.

“No one, in my mind, is challenging him to be the greatest sports writer of all time, and in fact one of the greatest writers of all time,” Susan Slusser, author of the San Francisco Chronicle, told Tyler Kepner, who gave the award. for Angell ran in the New York Times on Friday.

“He writes a lot of things that aren’t sports that are equally elegant and perfect,” Slusser, who successfully nominated Angell for a writer’s award in the 2014 Hall of Fame, continued. “Actually sometimes I get angry. His writing is so beautiful and precise and fun, you think, how can a human being have such an ability? But you can’t be jealous of Beethoven or Shakespeare. It’s just beyond what a lot of people can do.

Kepner recalls that Angell’s notes sometimes included “swing doodles or pitching movements of the player. He had a talent for describing movements in a colorful way and could relate to no one else.

“It was Angell in 1985 under Dan Quisenberry, a right -handed relief ace of the Kansas City Royals, whose best pitch looked harmless:‘ The ball on the plane showed concessions to the kids on the state fairgrounds – all swoops and swerves but none of that there is to make the mother nervous; if you stand close by, your first response is a smile.

Good as usual.