Roger Kahn, 'The Boys of Summer' author, dies

February 7th, 2020

Roger Kahn, author of one of the most popular and revered baseball books ever written, died on Thursday in Mamaroneck, N.Y., at the age of 92. His son, Gordon Kahn, confirmed his death to multiple media outlets.

Kahn wrote numerous books over his long and distinguished career, and not all were about baseball. But “The Boys of Summer,” a best-seller about the 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers published in 1972, made the most lasting impact and ensured that he would be most closely connected with the sport.

Kahn grew up a Dodgers fan in Brooklyn, and as a young reporter for the New York Herald Tribune newspaper, got the chance to accompany his boyhood team for the 1952-53 seasons -- during a golden age for baseball in New York, as every World Series from 1949-58 featured at least one New York team, and six were played fully within the city's boundaries.

In both years Kahn traveled with the Dodgers, they lost heartbreaking World Series to the Yankees, giving the Bronx Bombers five consecutive championships, three of them over Brooklyn. In those years, “Wait Til Next Year” was the refrain, and the Dodgers finally broke through to beat the Yankees in the World Series in 1955 for Brooklyn's only championship. But two years later, both they and the Giants departed New York for California.

In “The Boys of Summer,” Kahn documented those Dodgers teams and the many memorable characters who played for them, including Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Duke Snider, while sharing memories of his Brooklyn upbringing and revisiting many of them, years later, after baseball, dealing with the difficulties of life.

“No book is better at showing how sports is not just games,” said Sports Illustrated, in ranking “The Boys of Summer” second on its 2002 list of the top 100 sports books of all time, behind only A.J. Liebling’s 1956 boxing collection, “The Sweet Science.”

Kahn, who spent time as sports editor of Newsweek, wrote 19 books about various subjects. Among them were, "Good Enough to Dream," about owning a Minor League team in Utica, N.Y., "The Era: 1947–1957, When the Yankees, the Giants, and the Dodgers Ruled the World," "Joe & Marilyn: A Memory of Love," and "October Men," about the 1978 Yankees.