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Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu: John Updike on Ted Williams

4.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  163 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
On September 28, 1960-a day that will live forever in the hearts of fans-Red Sox slugger Ted Williams stepped up to the plate for his last at-bat in Fenway Park. Seizing the occasion, he belted a solo home run- a storybook ending to a storied career. In the stands that afternoon was 28-year-old John Updike, inspired by the moment to make his lone venture into the field of ...more
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published April 29th 2010 by Library of America (first published January 1st 2010)
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A.J. Howard
Jul 12, 2013 A.J. Howard rated it it was amazing
This is a standalone version of the essay that Updike wrote on Ted Williams last game in Fenway Park that appeared in the New Yorker in October 1960. I read this in the New Yorker Baseball Digital Anthology a couple years back. This essay might be the Sgt. Peppers of sportswriting. It was the announcement that a previously trivialized form of popular culture (sportswriting/rock music) had to be taken seriously as a medium for works which could be seen as pieces of art. I'm not dismissing sports ...more
Oct 09, 2010 Chelsea rated it it was amazing
God, I love this essay. I read it for the first time years ago for a class in a book simply called Baseball (what are the odds that link takes you to the right one?), and it made me fall madly in love with not only Updike, but Ted Williams.

This is a great format, and though as a reader I'm not supposed to say this, the cover is fantastic. The footnotes are included (which are a good portion of the appeal, though they are now out of date), as is an introduction Updike wrote the year he died, and
Oct 31, 2012 Brian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
Perhaps the earliest example of what Tom Wolfe came to label as the New Journalism, this is the story of Ted Williams's last game played at Fenway Park. No one to my knowledge has written a better essay on the complexity of Williams's relationship to the fans and the writers who covered him, or his singular striving to the best hitter the game has ever seen.
Jan 04, 2011 Pam rated it really liked it
Both the sports nut and the avid literature fan in me hesitate to write this post. I suppose, every now and then, I should open myself up to a little bit of friendly confession, though. The confession is as follows.

On December 31st, my son and I went to visit The Blue Elephant Bookshop. Fabulous little place where I usually find a good philosophy book or new novel. On the last day of 2010, however, while paying for a Biscuit book for Kai, I spotted somethi
Mar 06, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, baseball
Thanks dad! It's funny reading the reviews on the back cover, nearly all by sports writers, nearly all claiming Updike changed with this one essay the way sports writers write. Of course, this essay appeared in 1960, so if this is true I didn't get the 'before' picture. But looking at the sports columns that I regularly visit, both in the Star Tribune and on, there is evidence all over the place. The unfortunate thing, of course, is that this means lesser writers are trying almost all t ...more
Jack Silbert
Sep 18, 2011 Jack Silbert rated it it was amazing
Maybe I'm getting a little better at reading slim volumes based on essays when I'm supposed to. In spring 2009, I picked up a copy of Augie Wren's Christmas Storyby Paul Auster at a library used-book sale. I intended to read it when the holidays rolled around—but I forgot. So I had to wait another year.

WIth Hub Fans…, I bought it at the end of the 2010 baseball season, which was the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams' final game, the event commemorated in this lovely book. Reading it immediately m
Jul 28, 2011 Simone added it
Gorgeous. I don't know what it is that makes authors write so lyrically and elegantly about baseball, but this is a fine example of that. The essay published in this commemorative edition is accompanied by the author's preface, written shortly before his death in 2009, and a final short piece that summarises another short biographical piece and the obituary Updike wrote on Williams's passing. The essay itself is also annotated by the author, which works well as a present-day commentary on Updike ...more
ej cullen
Mar 14, 2011 ej cullen rated it liked it
Uber smart, as usual, from Updike. This is an early work. Updike's words always soar like wild birds, but here, I think he's a bit stilted, trying to out-Fitzgerald Scott Fitzgerald, something like tossing nasty splitters to the little league kids. The great Williams (whose body is frozen, presumably so that he can come back again to physically haunt left field in Fenway when the medical profession discovers how to do it,) wanted Updike to write his biography. Guess he liked looking up all the b ...more
Aaron Choi
Oct 07, 2011 Aaron Choi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
"But of all team sports, baseball, with its graceful intermittences of action, its immense and tranquil field sparsely settled with poised men in white, its dispassionate mathematics, seems to me best suited to accommodate, and be ornamented by, a loner. It is an essentially lonely game. No other player visible to my generation concentrated within himself so much of the sport's poignance, so assiduously refined his natural skills, so constantly brought to the plate that intensity of competence t ...more
Aug 20, 2011 Wendy rated it really liked it
Wonderful little essay about baseball legend Ted Williams' last game. John Updike was there and later wrote a wonderful piece for the New Yorker. It was republished in a commemorative version last year. I'm not a big sports fan, but this is so well told. When I finished, I was angry all over again about what has happened to sports (steroids, multi-million dollar contracts...) Every record Barry Bonds holds should be thrown out.
Dec 28, 2011 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu is a transcendent tribute to baseball and one of its most vivid and accomplished figures, as captured by one of America's most legendary authors. As the author expresses it in tribute to the athlete, that truly "crowds the throat with joy" ... and fills the heart and brings tears to the eyes, to boot.

Read my full review here:
Sep 30, 2010 Raymond rated it it was amazing
October eve. It is the time when everyone should read a baseball book. John Updike's Ted Williams story, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," can be read in 10 minutes but it may always be remembered. Updike truly takes a reader out to the ballgame, takes one out with the crowd.

Publishers seldom make such a mess, such a tangle of lay-out. Hard to believe this is the work of The Library of America.
Paul Gleason
Apr 26, 2012 Paul Gleason rated it it was amazing
It was terrific to be in the presence of Updike's prose again. I'd heard of his essay on Williams but never came across it until I found it on a "reduced-price" table at the local independent bookstore. Updike, who's perhaps the greatest American prose stylist of the second half of the twentieth century, does Williams, the purest and most complete hitter of all time, the justice he deserves.
Sep 12, 2010 Chad rated it liked it
Good. Did not quite live up to hype, but influential things tend not to (as everyone after takes from them, retreads, and hones). Occasional bouts of adjectivitis and clunkily allusional in parts. Thought multiple times throughout about how ostentatiously 'intellectual' this was for sports writing. It was as often a critique as it was a compliment.

Better for having read it, though.
Jan 12, 2016 Johnvano rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Classic baseball fans, Red Sox fans
Shelves: biography
John Updike's classic essay on Ted Williams' last game. Originally published in 1960, now published with footnotes and a 2002 addendum Updike wrote upon the death of Ted. An eloquent snapshot of the time, with the classic line about why Ted didn't tip his cap to the crowd, or re-enter for a bow after the home run in his final at-bat.
Len Washko
Apr 03, 2011 Len Washko rated it it was amazing
Perfect gift from the Biggest Red Sox AND John Updike fan in my life - my sister Trish. A delicious essay from a contemporary who appreciated Teddy Ballgame, and also loves and understands New England, its sensibilities, and baseball. Drink it up in one sitting. Thanks Trish.
Steve Good
Mar 01, 2012 Steve Good rated it liked it
Like baseball itself, a lackadaisical rambling essay that turns suddenly
suspenseful and exciting.
An acute psychological portrait of Ted Williams. This is supposedly one of the
best things ever written on baseball and I'd be the last to question this.
Aug 29, 2010 Bob rated it it was amazing
Originally an essay published when Williams retired in 1960, this is a love letter to baseball and Teddy Ballgame, a must-read for any baseball fan. Beautifully written. Thanks to Christopher for the birthday gift - a memorable one!!
Jun 25, 2010 Emily marked it as to-read
Shelves: baseball_books
When Ted Williams disdained a curtain call following a HR in the final at bat of his career, Updike famously wrote: "Gods do not answer letters". One of the american writers on one of the best baseball players ever.
Jul 15, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Short with great prose.This won't take long to read. You don't need to be a Ted Williams or Boston Red Sox fan. Just a baseball and Updike fan.

Just the thing before the Sox play the Yankees.

Apr 17, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, baseball
My favorite line in this essay is when Updike likens ballpark lights turned on during an overcast daytime game to the burning headlights of a funeral procession. I can see it.
Kevin A.
Aug 03, 2014 Kevin A. rated it it was amazing
Not really a book--Updike's classic New Yorker article about Ted Williams's final game in 1960. Still a great piece of writing.
Tom Zsolt
Dec 28, 2013 Tom Zsolt rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2013 Kristin rated it really liked it
THE baseball essay. Changed sports reporting. Lyrical and romantic. A loving tribute to a complex man.
M. Newman
Feb 25, 2011 M. Newman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, essay
A great essay by a wonderful novelist about the final game of Ted Williams' superlative career.
Apr 21, 2011 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A short book, but filled with great writing about a great ball player. Highly recommended.
Oct 12, 2010 Mike rated it it was ok
Liked this Updike, as usual. About Williams' last at bat, plus an obit.
Jan 26, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing
What a read and a true sports tribute to a a great slugger.
Maureen Flatley
Apr 07, 2012 Maureen Flatley rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the most wonderful essay ever written - reread constantly.
Jan 23, 2011 Cordelia rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Red Sox fans, Boston fans, Ted Williams fans
Recommended to Cordelia by: My father
John's descriptions of Fenway are perfect. PERFECT.
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John Hoyer Updike was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more
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