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Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu: John Updike on Ted Williams

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  41 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 1977)
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A.J. Howard
Jul 12, 2013 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
Sep 06, 2011 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 be the best hitter the game has ever seen.
Oct 09, 2010 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 The footnotes are included (which are a good portion of the appeal, though they are now out of date), as is an introduction Updike wrote the year he died, and
Woody Chandler
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Library of America had this on sale recently, along with some other pieces of sports writing & so I bought it for a re-read. I had read the original piece many years ago in an anthology of BOSOX writing at a time when my interest in baseball was renewed after being a huge fan as a kid. Now, I am less interested again. This edition came with both a Preface & an Afterword, both by my fellow Pennsylvanian, John Updike.

He grew up in Shillington, which is about 40 miles northeast of me, on Rte.
Henry Fuhrmann
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I found myself connecting through Boston during a business trip to Providence, I was able to squeeze in a visit to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox host the Houston Astros. The famous Updike story about Ted Williams' last game was the perfect reading for my train trip between the two cities. The piece originally ran in the New Yorker in the issue of Oct. 20, 1960. It shows the author to be a skilled observer and storyteller even at this early juncture, at age 28. My Library of America edition ...more
James Diamond
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
What happens when you marry one of the great American writers of fiction with a classic American pastime and a sports legend? You get this fantastic essay about the end of a career. Not sure if it’s a 4 or a 5, might be too short to get a 5 for a book. It’s really a magazine essay that has been preserved for eternity by putting it out in book form. And there’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest.
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book. Can be read easily in one sitting, and really should be. Written by Updike about attending Ted Williams' final game in 1960, the book simultaneously demonstrates the greatness of baseball, Ted Williams, and sports writing when it's done well. In fact, and this is a widely held opinion, this essay is easily one of the greatest pieces of sports writing America has seen.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a nice little book that contains an essay that originally appeared in The New Yorker in October 1960. John Updike was a 28 year old in the stands of Fenway Park on September 28, 1960, the day that famous Red Sox Ted Williams made his last at-bat appearance at Fenway.
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A lovely little read; halfway between an essay and memoir, or in another way, an ode. Baseball literature doesn’t get much better than Updike’s glittering tribute to the greatest hitter ever to pick up a bat.
Clayton Brannon
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent short read. Hate to call this a book that I have read. More like a magazine article. Does not qualify as a short story.
Jack Silbert
Sep 13, 2011 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
Jan 04, 2011 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 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
Jul 28, 2011 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 05, 2011 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 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 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 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 12, 2010 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.
Sep 30, 2010 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.
Mar 04, 2011 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.
Paul Gleason
Apr 26, 2012 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.
Jun 25, 2010 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 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
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!!
Jul 15, 2010 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.

Len Washko
Apr 03, 2011 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 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.
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Liked this Updike, as usual. About Williams' last at bat, plus an obit.
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a read and a true sports tribute to a a great slugger.
Jan 23, 2011 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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