MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Roger Kahn, the writer who wove memoir and baseball and touched millions of readers through his romantic account of the Brooklyn Dodgers in “The Boys of Summer,” has died. He was 92.
He died Thursday at a nursing facility in Mamaroneck, a Westchester County suburb, son Gordon Kahn said.
The author of 20 books and hundreds of articles, Kahn was best known for the 1972 best-seller that looked at his relationship with his father through their shared love of the Dodgers, an object of nostalgia for the many fans who mourned the team's move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.
“At a point in life when one is through with boyhood, but has not yet discovered how to be a man, it was my fortune to travel with the most marvelously appealing of teams,” Kahn wrote.
Kahn's book moved back and forth between the early 1950s, when he covered the Dodgers for the New York Herald Tribune, and 20 years later, when some were ailing (Jackie Robinson), embittered (Carl Furillo) or in a wheelchair (Roy Campanella).
The book was an instant hit, although Kahn was criticized for sentimentalizing his story.
“Here is a book that succeeded for me despite almost everything about it,” wrote Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, a late book critic for the New York Times.
Retired Dodgers broadcasting great Vin Scully knew Kahn well from their days with the team – Kahn was a beat writer covering the club, and the same age as Scully.
“You couldn't travel with them without getting emotionally involved. Roger captured that familial spirit of the players in those days,” Scully told The Associated Press on Friday. “The feeling in Brooklyn was always us against the world – the world would be the lordly pinstripers in the Bronx and almost lordly Giants in Manhattan.”
Scully said Kahn singularly distilled the essence of what it was like to be a Brooklyn player and fan of the team.
“He got it right,” Scully said. “Every year in Brooklyn, it was 'wait till next year.' It was only right that in all their years, they wound up winning only one World Series – and then left.”
Among those in the book was Carl Erskine, a star pitcher for those Dodgers.
“I turned 93 in December, and for a lot of us who played with Brooklyn then and were in that book, I wouldn't say it gave us eternal life, but it certainly enhanced our careers,” Erskine said from his home in Anderson, Indiana.