Roger Kahn has often been called the best baseball writer in the country. He has earned this enconium as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, columnist, and author.
Already renowned in journalistic circles, Mr. Kahn earned national celebrity in 1972 with the publication of his book, The Boys of Summer, which captured the imagination of the nation. It has sold nearly three million copies and is in its 85th printing. The book recounts Mr. Kahn's early years as a sports reporter in New York City and includes poignant visits with some of the famous Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s, including Hall-of-Famers Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider.
One reviewer said the book entranced the public because "it is not just another book about baseball or a boy growing up to like baseball, but a book about pain and defeat and endurance, about how men, anywhere, must live."
Mr. Kahn, however, is more than a sportswriter. He has written two novels and two nonfiction books not about sports. During the 1960s, he wrote often about politics, and even his sports books deal with social issues, especially racial injustice. His writing about Jackie Robinson, the first black in the modern major leagues, is particularly moving and noteworthy.
Mr. Kahn is the author of 20 books and hundreds of articles in national magazines such as Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Time and The Saturday Evening Post. His most recent book is entitled Into My Own: The Remarkable People and Events that Shaped a Life.
"Roger Kahn is one of the most eloquent sportswriters ever," comments John Mark Eberhart in the Kansas City Star. "He seems always to have had a special gift for baseball. His pieces on Sammy Sosa's corked bat, Roger Maris' troubles and Henry Aaron's rise above racism do make for great reading. But so do his works on boxing, basketball and the rest. All that stuff is in here, along with other essays that address the greatness and shortcomings of everyone from Jack Dempsey to the late, great, obnoxious Yankees manager, Billy Martin."
Mr. Kahn grew up in Brooklyn where he attended prep school and, like most of his fellow Brooklynites, rooted enthusiastically for the Dodgers. He joined the New York Herald Tribune as a copy boy in 1948 and rose quickly to become a baseball writer. He began to cover the Dodgers in 1952, and also traveled with the other New York teams, the Giants and the Yankees. At the age of 26, he was the newspaper's "star" sports reporter, making a salary of $10,000.
In 1956, Mr. Kahn was named sports editor of Newsweek magazine and then from 1963 to 1969 became editor at large of The Saturday Evening Post. For a decade he wrote a monthly column for Esquire magazine. Five times his articles were voted the best in the country and awarded the E.P. Dutton prize.
In 1972, he published The Boys of Summer, which became the country's number-one best seller and a phrase that is now used hundreds of times by writers and fans during the baseball season. Some of Mr. Kahn's other books include a biography of Jack Dempsey, a memoir of the season in which he owned a minor league baseball team, a history of a student uprising at Columbia University and a recollection of the era when the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants ruled the world. Three anthologies are entirely devoted to some of the best of Mr. Kahn's writing.
Mr. Kahn has taught writing at various colleges and lectured at Yale, Princeton and Columbia universities. Mr. Kahn held the distinguished position of Ottaway Professor of Journalism at SUNY New Paltz in the spring of 2004. In 2006 he was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. On that occasion, Baseball Comissioner Bud Selig called Mr. Kahn "An icon of our game." He lives in Stone Ridge, N.Y. with his wife, the psychotherapist Katharine Johnson. He has two grown children. Alissa Keenan, a ceramist, resides on Martha's Vineyard. Gordon J. Kahn, A.I.A., is a prominent architect in Manhattan.