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Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion

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Five Seasons covers the baseball seasons from 1972 through 1976, described as the “most significant half decade in the history of the game.” The era was notable for the remarkable individual feats of Hank Aaron, Lou Brock, and Nolan Ryan, among others. It also presented one of the best World Series of all time (1975), including still the greatest World Series game ever played (Game Six). Along with visiting other games and campaigns, Roger Angell meets a trio of Tigers-obsessed fans, goes to a game with a departing old-style owner, watches high-school ball in Kentucky with a famous scout, and explores the sad and astounding mystery of Steve Blass’s vanished control. Angell’s Five Seasons is a gem and a gift for baseball lovers of all ages.

413 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1977

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About the author

Roger Angell

42 books85 followers
Roger Angell (b. 1920) is a celebrated New Yorker writer and editor. First published in the magazine in 1944, he became a fiction editor and regular contributor in 1956; and remains as a senior editor and staff writer. In addition to seven classic books on baseball, which include The Summer Game (1972), Five Seasons (1977), and Season Ticket (1988), he has written works of fiction, humor, and a memoir, Let Me Finish (2006).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,686 reviews203 followers
September 7, 2019
Published in 1977, covering the titular five seasons from 1972 to 1976, this book is a throwback to a prior era in baseball with top-notch writing. Angell wrote this series of essays for the New Yorker, so each is a standalone article with a particular topic and, taken as a whole, provides a striking picture of what the game was like at the time. The publication date of the article is shown at the top and the articles are not arranged in sequential order.

It highlights notable achievements in the sport at the time, such as:
• Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record
• Nolan Ryan completing his third and fourth no-hitters (which baseball fans know expanded to seven by the end of his career)
• Lou Brock setting records for base stealing

Angell relates what he considered at the time to be an adulteration of the sport:
• Initiation of the designated hitter in the American League, in part to shore up attendance
• Obvious impact of corporate thinking in baseball
• Beginning of free agency and player salaries rising to unprecedented levels (a harbinger of even higher salaries to come)
• Increase in night games and related changes due to television coverage
• Artificial turf, and its increase in wear and tear on the athletes

He also shares several human-interest stories, such as:
• Steve Blass suddenly and mysteriously losing his effectiveness as a pitcher
• The antics of Charles O. Finley and his colorful Oakland A’s
• Conversations with old-style Giant’s owner Horace Stoneham
• A group of three Tigers’ fans keeping stats and reacting to the ups and downs of the season
• Inside look at traveling with a veteran baseball scout, Ray Scarborough, as he evaluates prospects for the Angels

Angell takes a look at just about every aspect of the game, including labor issues, owners, coaches, managers, the Commissioner’s Office, star players, fringe players, scouting, the draft, minor leagues, fans, umpires, rain delays, the baseball itself, teams of note (A’s, Reds, Mets, Tigers, Pirates, Yankees, and more), statistics, records, stadiums, and synopses of games. I particularly enjoyed the quaint descriptions of the Spring Training environment, prior to a time when fans flocked to Arizona and Florida to see their favorite teams get ready for the season. Baseball has changed significantly since the 1970’s but this was a time when many of the seeds of current trends were sown. Angell’s obvious love of the game shines through his vivid portrayal of the sights, sounds, emotions, and personalities involved. Avid baseball fans will enjoy this compilation, especially those interested in nostalgia and the history of the game.
Profile Image for Al.
402 reviews3 followers
November 15, 2019
I finally read Roger Angell.

For starters, he is considered one of the masters of baseball writing. I picked up this book because there was some 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets content.

I am tempted to use the cliche “they don’t make it like this anymore”, but that’s simply not true. There is some great baseball writing out there.

But what I can say is the hype is true. Angell is as good as any body who’s ever wrote about baseball. There’s an observational level where Angell isn’t just writing about sport, but he’s talking about American life.

Five Seasons is a collection of writings so some of it is very “general audience” timeless tales like the story of three Tigers fans, he wrote for the New Yorker; or the story of Steve Blass who inexplicably and seemingly overnight went from AllStar pitcher to not being able to throw a strike. Other pieces are just stadium travelogues.

For that, it is hard to recommend Angell to non baseball fans, though it is still worth looking up those classic New Yorker articles just to experience this great American writer.

For me, the players here are the ones I grew up with. It really hit me hard in the nostalgia.

Five Seasons was probably randomly picked,since it was published in 1977 and happened to collect 1972 through 1976 as they had just passed. But with retrospect, they are important seasons. The As and Reds dynasties are here, as well as the Orioles on the descent and the Yankees on the ascent.

It’s hard not to think of these if not as the last glory years of baseball, at least the transition years. So much change: Players Union, the first labor strike (over pension), the Designated Hitter, night baseball, and free agency. Angell even talks about the way baseball scouting has changed

Charlie O Finley is here. He of the Orange Baseballs, the Designated Runner, and the extra pay bonus for players who would grow a mustache. He would take the best team in baseball and break them up with his penny-pinching ways.

Some great moments too. The 1975 World Series as good as one ever played. Hank Aaron pursuing Babe Ruth’s record. The seemingly ageless Willie Mays finally getting old. Lou Brock, Nolan Ryan Joe Morgan. So many names, often up and coming, written as it happened. The greats and the now forgotten.

Angell captures everything with a wide angle lens. So not only is his take on the game good, but he catches the fans in the stands. The crack of the bat as well as the peanuts and crackerjack.

Baseball (and life) always changes. Angell wrestles with ideas such as the San Francisco Giants being bought by a Japanese company, baseball on tv being called by Howard Cosell, and the eternal fight between owners and players. Heck, we still fight over the Designated Hitter, and disparity between players and owners gets ever wider.

Because it is a collection, there is some repetition. I do think anyone who really loves the game and regularly reads sports books will enjoy it. Otherwise, it may be too gigantic of a task for those who might come to the subject half-heartedly. That said, Angel’s writing is easy to find and every American should check out one of his famous stories.
1 review
April 26, 2012
Five Seasons is a great series of essays Angell penned between 1972 and 1977, mostly for the New Yorker. This period, Angell argues, was the most significant half-decade in the game's history. I don't know if he's changed his mind about that claim since the foreword was written, but the pieces included here make a compelling case.

The level of play during the 1970s, particularly in the postseason, was remarkably high. These years were also marked by labor strife and the beginnings of free agency. The particulars of these events are not unfamiliar to baseball fans but it is interesting to see a good writer react to them as they unfolded through the mid 70s.

Angell loves the Mets (and the great Tom Seaver) and his recounting of the 1973 pennant race is very memorable. I also appreciated the attention Angell pays to the ageing, but still very good, Detroit Tiger teams of that era. There is, of course, a long piece describing the already exhaustively covered '75 Series. This may have been my least favorite story in the collection and I suspect that is only because I have heard so much about it (and seen film of, I think, every game) that it's grown tiresome. But it's great stuff for Reds fans who want to relive the win and a keeper for Sox fans who feel they didn't receive sufficient attention from Ken Burns.

The best articles in the book include a long piece about scouting (my favorite), a great story about Horace Stoneham, and the famous Steve Blass article "Gone For Good". It's worth picking up a copy for these three essays alone.

This really is an essential read for baseball fans, particularly those of us who began to follow the game in the years that followed the ones Angell covers here. So many of the exceptional young players that pop up throughout the book were, by the time I was following the game closely, established veterans. Here we get a chance to find out how the early years went for them and how so many of the great players and journeymen of the previous generation wrapped up their careers.
Profile Image for Bob.
1,779 reviews607 followers
September 1, 2022
Summary: Roger Angell essays covering the seasons of 1972 to 1976 that arguably transformed baseball into the sport it is today.

I’ve been discovering the marvelous baseball writing of the recently deceased Roger Angell, one of the great baseball writers. This book includes essays from the seasons of 1972 to 1976, my college years. One of the marvels of this collection was simply to relive in the reading the historic seven-game series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox in 1975. It was the era of the Big Red Machine, Yaz, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, and Luis Tiant with the Red Sox (the latter yet another great player traded away by the Indians!).

Along the way, he reminded me of the Oakland A’s championship teams united by their love of winning and their shared resentments of Charlie Finley, the brilliant and flawed club owner. By contrast, Angell recounts an afternoon watching the Giants in the twilight years of Horace Stoneham’s ownership, a gracious host.

We read of the final games of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, as well as the years of Nolan Ryan’s greatness. He also writes of Steve Blass, who threw an amazing World Series game with the Pirates, and in subsequent years lost his control. He could pitch well in practice, his arm was sound, but he could not get his head sorted out. And finally he hung it up.

He takes us behind the scenes, at spring training games, the rebuilding of both Yankee Stadium and the Yankee team and Walter Alston’s brief playing career and the end of his managerial leadership of the Dodgers. We learn about the reserve clause that bound players to their teams, the fight to gain free agency, the owners lockout, and subsequent agreement that changed baseball as players won larger salaries and became more mobile. Angell tells the other side, about how many players want to remain in a community and hated trades.

One of the “behind-the-scenes” accounts in the book was Angell’s trip with Ray Scarborough, an Angel’s scout as he evaluated players. We learn what scouts looked for in pitchers (body, mechanics, and a good fastball with control) and hitters (good contact, whether they got hits or not) and the fraternity among them even though they scouted for rival clubs. It all came down to the draft and who chose who.

It was a time of change with the corporatization of the game, artificial turf, a changing of the guard of stars, and the power struggle between the Players Association and owners. But so much of this book just revels in the game, the ups and downs of each season, rain delays, and the quirks of each ball park, the contenders, the playoffs and the World Series. Angell reminded me of games I’d seen and players I remembered: Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, Vida Blue and Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench and Pete Rose (alias Charley Hustle).

For the young fan, the book tells us something of how we got to the present. For older fans, it is a time to remember. For all of us, Angell’s descriptions invite us to a special kind of fantasy baseball, reliving in our minds real games and personalities of the past.
Profile Image for Lance.
1,395 reviews89 followers
July 29, 2018
Frankly, another review of a book in which the topic is baseball and the author is Roger Angell cannot either a) do justice to the book or b) say anything that hasn’t already been said. This collection of baseball essays from his days of writing for the New Yorker covers the time period of the 1972 -1976 seasons.

During this time frame, anything a reader can think of is covered. Scouting? Yes, a wonderful conversation with a long-time scout for the then-California Angels is retold. Business? Between the strike over player pension funds in 1972 (the first strike by the fairly new Major League Baseball Players Union) and the lockout during spring training in 1976, that’s covered. Fans? One wonderful chapter on three lifelong Detroit Tigers fans will have the reader both laughing and crying.

Of course, there’s plenty about the game on the field as well. Readers who were fans of the game at that time will enjoy reading about all of the star players. Everyone from Hank Aaron to Joe Morgan is mentioned as well as the best teams of that era – the Oakland A’s who won the World Series three consecutive seasons, the Big Red Machine otherwise known as the Cincinnati Red and the resurgence of the New York Yankees. Being a New Yorker, Angell also writes passionately about the New York Mets, which makes for some of the best reading in the book.

This review just scratches the surface of describing how much a baseball fan will enjoy this book, whether or not he or she was a fan of this period of baseball. Angell is an author whose books simply must be read by all baseball fans, no matter their age or team loyalties. Those who have read anything by him know what I mean – those that haven’t, this is one to pick up to get a glimpse into the immense talent he has for writing about the American Pastime.

Profile Image for Fred.
432 reviews6 followers
June 24, 2020
This book is a time-capsule of 1970 professional baseball. The essays in "Five Seasons," were written between 1971- 1976: Five season, just as the title says. There are few summary comments and no "preface to the edition" which means the opinions and observations are frozen in time. For me this was part of the beauty. Being a child of the 70s, few things were more indulgent that pretending to be back in the decade of baby-blue double knits and plastic grass. There are recaps of all the World Series including the best piece in the collection about the 1975 World Series. There are some things that Roger Angell worries about in this volume that he needn't have concerned himself with -- like astro-turf becoming the standard and the World Series moving to a neutral location ("it will happen.") There are other things that he is spot on about, like the growth of free agency which was just underway. But perhaps the most fascinating of all is how many of his gripes are still gripes today -- the continued bickering between owners and players, the constant commercials, the concern to make money above appreciating the game and, indeed, the belief that the game is dying.
742 reviews10 followers
April 11, 2018
As Spring Training hit full swing this year it seemed the perfect time to revisit another of Angell's fantastic baseball writing. This book covering the 73 through 77 seasons had some excellent pieces. While the Oakland A's and Cincinnati Reds bookended the period with two championships each the most notable was the 75 season with that Series for,the ages, between the Sox and Reds. And by the end of 1977 the Yankees were once again World Champions.

The strongest chapter in the book is a long look at Steve Blass, the very successful Pirates pitcher who in the spring of 1973 began to suffer from what has become in baseball parlance since then as " Steve Blass " disease. Suddenly unable to throw the ball over the plate he underwent a two year journey into oblivion, his team, management and teammates both, going from patient and understanding to shocked and disbelief over his inability to right himself. Now, almost fifty years later, we can list the players who have suffered as a pitcher such as Rick Ankiel and Mark Wohlers to various position players, most notably Yankee second basemen Steve Sax. As a Red Sox fan I remember some lesser known examples as Jarrod Saltamachia, a catcher who struggled throw the ball back to the pitcher and Julian Tavares, a journeyman relief pitcher that by the end of his career was rolling the ball to first base when he had to field a tapper back to the mound. This blatant example of the mental impeding the physical aspect of the game was a strange sight in 1973 and Steve Blass handled it about as well as one could have expected. Certainly it helped that he had had a measure of success beforehand that disallowed any presumption of flakiness as otherwise in that time of place might have been used to sweep his story aside. Today, we hear about an example almost yearly, the most recent being Cubs pitcher Jon Lester who at times has been all but incapable of holding runners in first base.

The other feature article to me was Angell's choice to spend the afternoon with long time Giants owner Horace Stoneham. His family had owned the club for over fifty years but as it became clear the finances of the team were at a point where they needed a significant boost Mr. Stoneham was expected to sell. The author spends an afternoon at the park on a cold ( it was always cold at Candlestick ) early summer afternoon and was regaled with story after after story of old baseball.

The overarching theme of this era of baseball was the coming end to the owners complete domination of the game. With the reserve clause being challenged repeatedly in the courts and the antitrust exemption hanging over the owners heads it, as a modern observer, was both disheartening and totally unsurprising to see the ownership group act no differently than the oil barons, industrialists ( that many of them were in their other lives ) have always acted when faced with recalcitrant employees having the nerve to ask for more rights, privileges, and especially compensation. It is interesting to watch the author easily take the side of the players in these battles, criticize the fans for their knee jerk reaction usually against the players, yet at the same time admit that the big business side of the game might turn his feelings for the game backwards forever.

Without going into a long term digression on labor politics in America it will never be understood by this party how the average citizen can or could side with the owners in this industry or frankly any other against workers striving for fairer treatment.

Of course Angell feature strong writing on each years postseason playoffs and World Series. The Oakland A's a classic team, champions thrice, beset by both their opponents, their limited fans in attendance, sometimes fighting amongst themselves and always angry at their interfering, parsimonious, owner Charles O Finley. The Big Red Machine of the Reds with Pete Rose in the tenth inning of the Classic Game Six turning to Carlton Fisk ( who had his own appointment with destiny in a couple of innings ) as he stepped into the batters box and saying " this is quite a game isn't it."

Why yes Pete. It certainly is.

As always Angel is worth reading.
Profile Image for Thom.
1,538 reviews47 followers
January 22, 2022
The 1970s was a turbulent time in baseball, and this was one of the first books written about that era. It's poetic prose covers personalities and stories, along with history and anecdotes of five seasons - including the best world series ever.

This era saw the start of free agency and the first DH in the world series. Angell's comments that those championship games were played "too late in the year" were true then, and three weeks more so now. The essay on Steve Blass "Gone for Good" was clearly the best in the book.

The book is enhanced by the internet sources available now - after reading Angell's excellent description of Herb Washington in the 1974 world series, I was able to find a television broadcast of the event. Box scores of the games he was at or talked about, whatever happened to Dick Allen, etc.

I liked the book a lot, but it didn't hold my attention as The Summer Game did. Rambling paragraphs speculating on the future of some players feel out of place among the well-written prose - this was the stuff of newspapers at the time. Minor complaints, really - I look forward to more from Roger Angell, who celebrated his 101st birthday last year.
Profile Image for Lisa.
241 reviews15 followers
March 6, 2021
Lou Brock
Hank Aaron
Roberto Clemente
Roger Angell has accomplished what no writer has done for me for a long time - brought me back to my childhood. When I was 10 years old went with my family to sporting events like Black Hawks games at the old Madhouse on Madison, Cubs + Sox games and watching a lot of baseball on TV and listening to Hawks games on the radio. Names like Joe Morgan, Steve Garvey, Rollie Fingers, Ron Cey, Catfish Hunter, Willie Stargell, Steve Carlton, Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Larry Bowa, Cesar Cedeno, Dick Allen, Billy Williams, Jose Cardenal are not unfamiliar.
The story of Steve Blass was at the time of writing, heartbreaking. Glad it turned out so well for him starting in the 80s when he began a 30+ year career announcing for the Pirates. Charlie O. Finley turned out to be meaner than I knew, while the colorful Oakland A's more than lived up to their reputation.
One of my favorite quotes from the book, "(Luis)Tiant...was in top form, wheeling and rotating on the mound like a figure in a Bavarian clock tower..."
This book has been a great escape from the political madness engulfing the US.
Roger Angell is a treasure.
511 reviews3 followers
July 6, 2016
It's taken as Bible-truth that Angell is the best baseball writer on the planet. This book shows the reader why that's the case. Angell is a wordsmith without being showy about it and an insider who convincingly dresses up as a fan. "Three for the Tigers" and "The Scout" are two true standout pieces, but the whole book is a treasure, even the recaps of seasons long since passed.
At times, the writing/references seem dated (which, duh, they are), but this book holds up remarkably well on the whole. You need to be a baseball fan to enjoy it, and if you are a baseball fan, you need to read it.
590 reviews1 follower
March 7, 2020
This one was recommended to me by Goodreads. I usually enjoy books containing sports and I gave this a try. I loved it. The content is the five baseball seasons 1972 thru 1976 and some significant history of the sport that passed thru those years. A few are Hank Aaron's passing of Ruth's record. Nolan Ryan's record number of no hitters. And Lou Brock's stolen base record.( at the time) I enjoyed the content because it brought me back to years when players I saw growing up in the late sixties, who were still playing in this book's time, were included in this writing. Love the nostalgia. Some of the stuff I remembered, some was news to me. I also loved the actual writing. Here, I will include a small part to give you an idea. "It was a warm late-May night, summer having finally caught up with baseball, and the smallish crowd, having nothing much to cheer about, fell into a soft, languid murmuration". I felt like I knew exactly what he was trying to lay on me with that sentence. BTW, the word murmuration was something he made up. It is underlined in red in this Goodreads word processor. So is the word Goodreads. :) Another part I liked was a written illustration of Angell's activity dedicated to watching TV because there were several baseball games he could watch. His description switches channels often, going from baseball game to game. he also includes a stop on a channel with a WC Fields movie going. Another with Tyrone Power on it. He catches a college football game going. Etc Etc. His rabid channel surfing reminded me of myself,,,a little. Another part detailed his attendance at Spring Training and I found it very entertaining. It covers some of the odd stuff that occurs in this part of baseball and it is funny and interesting. I enjoyed it hugely. (I made a note in the margin of one of these pages saying "this may be the best chapter of the book". One last part was his writing on the ruination of baseball because of things like the designated hitter and also the announcers, who were adding so much unnecessary commentary during the game about stats, color, bad jokes, and distracting interviews of players all while the game is being played. I have wondered about these things myself at times, even today. I won't take more time now. I swear these are not spoilers. I couldn't stop myself from including these in my review. I think any baseball fan would enjoy this book, especially if they were a fan during these years which are written about here.
Profile Image for Matt Ely.
673 reviews40 followers
April 15, 2020
As one must expect with an essay collection, there are ups and downs. The ups make you wonder how anyone else would dare write about the game of baseball in Angell's wake. The downs make you skim, though not resentfully.

In general, Angell is at his best when he is examining a specific person and how they fit into the baseball landscape. He draws his characters beautifully, often imparting a melancholic edge while also being self-aware enough to critique his penchant for imparting melancholic edges. This helps paint a picture of baseball in the 1970's: how much is different and how much is unchanged. By contrast, he is less compelling as he describes the play-by-play of championship series, the reader having the feeling that not much is gained by his description that one could not get elsewhere. Angell certainly has a way with words, but it's hard to make game summaries compelling in themselves when he's so far removed from the human element, half the time watching them on TV.

It's worth taking some time with this one, but a reader shouldn't feel bad if they don't dig deep into each essay. If I were to re-read this one someday, I'd probably limit myself to the following essays:
-On the Ball (how pitching works)
-Landscape, with Figures (statistical analysis, 70's style)
-Sunny Side of the Street (good anecdotes from spring training)
-Gone for Good (the Steve Blass "yips" story)
-The Companions of the Game (the end of the Horace Stoneham era with the Giants)
-Scout (the transition into the draft-era of amateur scouting)
Profile Image for Tim Hoiland.
299 reviews39 followers
May 1, 2019
When it comes to baseball writing, Roger Angell is the best there is.

“What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our games are all about; this is what we come for. It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look—I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring—caring deeply and passionately, really caring—which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté—the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball—seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”
Profile Image for Alan.
646 reviews9 followers
November 14, 2022
This book is a collection of essays covering, yes, Five Seasons of baseball (1972-1976), which coincidentally was at the height of my baseball fandom (ages 9-13) when I was obsessed with Strat-O-Matic baseball (tabletop baseball strategy game). It's also a time of a great change in the game - the DH, free agency and AL expansion. But the beauty in the collection isn't the nostalgia for a bygone era, but sheer beauty and eloquence of the writing. Aside from highlights of the seasons (including a great chapter on the 1975 World Series), there were detours into the life of baseball scout and a group of middle aged men obsessed with the Detroit Tigers since childhood. It was equal parts narration, humor, social commentary and reflection. And at the risk of sounding trite, you really don't need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book, but it does help! Roger Angell is head and shoulders above any baseball writing and this was one of those serendipitous finds in a used bookstore that was worth far more than the $10 I paid (Thanks to Green Apple Books on Clement Street!!)
Profile Image for Mike Stewart.
319 reviews1 follower
July 11, 2020
A delight for baseball fans. Few if any writers have written about the sport with more intelligence, verve and good humor. The book is a compilation of articles Angell wrote during 1972-76, a period that he viewed as perhaps the most significant in baseball history. The death of the reserve clause. the increasing visibility of the business side of the game, the role of television and gimmickry to increase attendance, viewership and profits he saw as alarming and injurious. He may have been right to a certain degree; however, some of what he foresaw did not come to pass, e.g. the World Series becoming a Super Bowl-like event. Angell is first and foremost a fan and a bit of a curmudgeon, critical of some of the changes, the DH and league expansion for example, that occurred in the 70's. Nevertheless a fun read in these strange times when we're without the game.
395 reviews6 followers
June 2, 2020
As always, Angell's descriptions of the on-field game--individual games, portions of seasons, playoff series and the world series--are terrific. He captures the essence of the game he's describing in short summaries.

But much of this collection of New Yorker articles focuses on off-field aspects: the onset of free agency and the difficult negotiations between owners and players, changes in the traditions of the game and the like. I found these sections of the book a bit tedious and dated. And Angell's traditionalist views can be irritating.

There is a really good chapter (actually, an article) about scouting which is a fascinating look at what then seemed to be a disappearing aspect of the game.
Profile Image for Robert Melnyk.
339 reviews14 followers
November 29, 2018
Excellent book about baseball during the mid 1970s. Along with reliving many of the highlights of the seasons from 1972-1976, the book also discusses how the game was changing from a business perspective. It deals with the onset of free agency, and the changes in the way scouting was done in order to find and hire new baseball talent. I really enjoyed this book, having lived through this time in baseball history. However, in order to enjoy/appreciate this book, I think you need to be a baseball fan, and probably a fan during the 1970s. If you were a baseball fan during this era, you will enjoy the book. If not, you should probably skip this one.
Profile Image for Cameron.
359 reviews19 followers
June 22, 2022
Roger Angell worked for the New Yorker for almost eighty years and died last month. I saw his obituary while flipping through the weekend FT and vaguely recalled I'd seen his name on a book in one of my piles. Sure enough, this compendium of Angell's baseball writing from the 1970s had been sitting in my baseball stack for some time. I'm glad to have finally re-discovered it because Angell may be one of the finest writers of baseball I've come across. This man was a serious lifelong fan and student of the game who nominally wrote for a popular audience but really spoke to the true lovers of the sport. If you like thinking about baseball, you'll like this book.
Profile Image for Richard.
142 reviews1 follower
January 25, 2020
A trip back to my youth in the seventies

I’m on a mission to read a series of Roger Angell books and this marked number two, following The Summer Game, which covered 10 seasons, 1962-1971. This book, Five Seasons, picks up where Angell left off, ending with the 1976 World Series. Perhaps because I actually was old enough to remember these later years, I found this volume more interesting. It is more than 100 pages longer and covers a more diverse array of topics. I especially enjoyed the chapters on scouting and pitcher Steve Blass who mysteriously lost his control.
Profile Image for Frank Murtaugh.
Author 1 book1 follower
June 17, 2022
A delightful collection of baseball stories from one of the finest baseball writers we'll ever know. I especially relished tales of teams/players from my early childhood (1972-76), those I knew more from baseball cards than any newspaper/magazine/broadcast. Angell lived a long life (101 years), and I believe a happy one, based on his devotion to the world's greatest game. "We are trying to conserve something that seems as intricate and lovely to us as any river valley." Great writing, like a distinctive baseball memory, never dies.
Profile Image for Tobias.
Author 2 books28 followers
May 4, 2017
Great collection of essays, especially his essay on the 1975 World Series, which includes a splendid little elegy on what sports fandom means. More than his earlier collection, reflects the changes in the business of baseball in the 1970s. His views became much more progressive - friendly to the players, critical of owners - than earlier. (Also, good reminder of just how great an era the 1970s actually was for baseball.)
Profile Image for Patrick Barry.
894 reviews7 followers
March 21, 2018
Roger Angell is my favorite contemporary sportswriter. This book follows the five seasons from 1972 through 1976. The book is culled primarily from essays he wrote for The New Yorker. The stories run the gamut from Spring Training through the World Series. It also includes human interest stories on Horace Stoneman, Steve Blass, fans following Al Kaline as he nears retirement and much more. The is the ultimate sports writing for people who don't like sports writing. Just a fantastic read.
16 reviews1 follower
December 30, 2017
My favorite of Roger Angell's many great books on baseball. The essays on three die-hard Detroit Tigers fans, former Pirates pitcher Steve Blass, and Angels scout Day Scarborough particularly stand out. This book reminds us that even as baseball was becoming the big-money game it is today, it is continually played, tended to and followed by human beings.
Profile Image for Alex Abboud.
137 reviews1 follower
April 28, 2018
There’s no one better who writes about baseball. Interesting to read about a turbulent period in baseball more than 40 years ago, and see that the tensions in the game today aren’t really new. Some great profiles of some of the key personalities of the era too.
582 reviews7 followers
December 20, 2019
Heavy on mythologizing and bs'ery but that's what you sign up for when you read a baseball book. Some of the writing here was genuinely great, especially the Steve Blass chapter. Maybe the best baseball book I've ever read.
10 reviews
February 22, 2022
A great book about the 1972-1976 seasons. Roger Angell is a most literary writer of the game. His work stands as a historical snapshot of baseball, whose writing stands the test of time, reading it decades later. It is great to read and rediscover, for myself, this classic sportswriter.
Profile Image for Valerie Seckler.
30 reviews3 followers
January 9, 2018
Roger Angell's classic rates as a must read for baseball fans and enthusiasts.
After reading "Five Seasons" for the first time circa 1978, I've returned for extra innings.
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