Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Updike at Rest

John Updike died today. Google the name for more details than I care to provide here. I haven't read all or most of his stuff. OK, the only novel I've read is Rabbit Run, his brilliant story — cutting-edge risqué at the time — about the horror of being stuck in an unhappy marriage when your true passion lies elsewhere.

But if you haven't read his 1960 article about Ted Williams' last at-bat, then don't call yourself a baseball fan. If you don't understand why people love baseball, then read the article. Updike writes better than anyone ever has about the atmosphere at Fenway, how baseball is different, and why Ted Williams was one of a kind.
At age 14 I was waiting for a plane to Nova Scotia when I saw the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived sitting by himself. He was on his way up to Canada to go fishing (of course), and I chatted with him for a few minutes. I've relocated 13 times since college and almost nothing has survived from before the first move. But this autograph and crappy picture taken from my Kodak Disc camera are in it for the long-haul.
David Halberstam wins the prize for best Williams quote ever, about Ted's envy of the first African-American player in the American League, expressed loudly in the main dining hall of the Ritz-Carlton in Boston: "I wish I could have had Larry Doby's cock!" But there's no better explanation of why the above documents are priceless than Updike's article.

One day Phutatorius may write a similar article of equal caliber. That is, if any player of distinction ever finishes his career with the Cleveland Indians.


Phutatorius said...

Hey, so when Ted Williams died, did you write a eulogy for John Updike?

Mithridates said...

Ted Williams isn't really dead yet. He's cryogenically frozen awaiting a future cure for all disease.

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