For the four decades he's been writing about baseball for The New Yorker
, Roger Angell has led all shortlists of the game's most astute and elegant chroniclers. With A Pitcher's Story: Innings with David Cone
, he attempts, with thrilling command, something he's never tried before--devoting a whole volume to one player by spending an entire season at his heels. In pitcher David Cone, a cerebral student of his game and articulate practitioner of his craft, Angell finds a subject as perfect as the perfecto Cone hurled against the Expos on Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium in 1999. Better still, he finds in Cone a partner unwilling to shrink beneath the hot light of what would prove to be an agonizing and introspective year.
One of the game's premier pitchers, Cone came unglued in 2000; his 4-14 season was a disaster. The "wizardly old master" Angell had intended to extol was suddenly "Merlin falling headlong down the palace stairs." There's gold to be spun from that, though, and Angell, the essayist as deft alchemist, spins away. The more Cone struggles--the more he battles age, doubt, injury, and the various curves baseball fate can throw--to regain what he's lost, the more valiant he seems. It gives A Pitcher's Story its depth, its heart, its spirit, and its honor. If Angell entered into the project with the intention of getting a grip on the delicacies of pitching, he does, but he comes away with so much more. Like good battery mates, Cone and Angell work with, and off of, each other. Together, they evoke a canny portrait of a career at the crossroads, and a meditation on the powers of an elite athlete's pride. --Jeff Silverman
From Publishers Weekly
This is not the book that master baseball chronicler Angell set out to write, the author acknowledges midway through what is essentially a biography of the well-traveled Cone. Angell had planned an "inside look at a wizardly old master at his late last best," but instead found a "Merlin falling headlong down the palace stairs." Neither Cone nor Angell could have foreseen that after the Yankee pitcher gave Angell full access to him during the 2000 baseball season, Cone would have the worst year of his career, finishing with a 4-14 won-lost record. Although Angell's focal point is Cone's last year with the Yankees, he covers all of Cone's life and career, tracking his baseball journey from his days as a star athlete in Kansas City to his stops with the Mets, Blue Jays, Royals and Yankees. Cone had success with each team he played for, including being one of the core players and unofficial team spokesman for the 1996-2000 Yankees with whom Cone won four World Series. Angell (The Summer Game) not only details Cone's highs and lows on and off the playing field, but does a superb job in recording Cone's anxieties and frustrations as the two men move through the disappointing 2000 season. The combination of Angell's love and knowledge of baseball and his truly fascinating subjects makes for another win in Angell's long list of hits about the American pastime. (On-sale: May 2)Forecast: Given the Yankees' recent dominance, this book will attract a lot of fans despite Cone's disappointing last season and his off-seasonn move to the Red Sox. In addition to radio spots in New York and a TV satellite tour to 25 other markets, fans of America's team of the century will call this book a keeper, not only because of Cone but also because of Angell's deservedly high reputation as a sportswriter.
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