Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike: RIP

From his "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" first published in the New Yorker magazine Oct. 22, 1960

Understand that we were a crowd of rational people. We knew that a
home run cannot be produced at will; the right pitch must be perfectly met and
luck must ride with the ball. Three innings before, we had seen a brave effort
fail. The air was soggy, the season was exhausted. Nevertheless, there will
always lurk, around the corner in a pocket of our knowledge of the odds, an
indefensible hope, and this was one of the times, which you now and then find in
sports, when a density of expectation hangs in the air and plucks an event out
of the future.

Fisher, after his unsettling wait, was low with the first pitch. He put
the second one over, and Williams swung mightily and missed. The crowd grunted,
seeing that classic swing, so long and smooth and quick, exposed. Fisher threw
the third time, Williams swung again, and there it was. The ball climbed on a
diagonal line into the vast volume of air over center field. From my angle,
behind third base, the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a
towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge.
It was in the books while it was still in the sky. Brandt ran back to the
deepest corner of the outfield grass, the ball descended beyond his reach and
struck in the crotch where the bullpen met the wall, bounced chunkily, and

Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of
bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out
home runs - hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of
rain to get out of. He didn't tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted
''We want Ted'' for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back.
Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open
anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The
papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged
him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he refused. Gods do not
answer letters.


soup said...

And feel free to post over this. I just thought we'd take a second in remembrance.

Daymonster said...

Damn, I wish I could write like that.

Also, I like how he called the bases a square and not a diamond. That always bothered me how everyone calls it a diamond.

Anonymous said...

Now that's writing.
R.I.P. 'ol Updike

Anonymous said...

"It was in the books while it was still in the sky."