Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu: John Updike on Ted Williams Hardcover – April 29, 2010
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Praise through the decades for HUB FANS BID KID ADIEU
"The most celebrated baseball essay ever."
"Updike on Williams is a stirring spectacle. Nothing he wrote can top this astonishing piece."
"The greatest writer, in the greatest ballpark, on the greatest hitter who ever lived."
"No sportswriter ever wrote anything better."
"The piece that changed the way the sport is written. Updike made baseball the lyricist's game."
"Updike was a baseball writer only once, yet he wrote the finest baseball story I know of. He and Ted Williams shared a singular ambition: to be the best that ever played the game."
-Richard Ben Cramer
"It has the mystique."
About the Author
John Updike is the author of more than 60 books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle, and the Howells Medal, among other honors. He died in January 2009. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
If you follow baseball and care about its storied past, or admire the writing of John Updike, then you will enjoy reading this piece. If you happen to belong to both camps -- if you're an Updike fan AND a baseball fan -- then put this at the top of your list of must-reads.
The question is whether you should spend your money on this particular setting of "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." The article is available online where it can be read for free on several websites, including that of The New Yorker. In book form the piece has been much anthologized. It appears alongside contributions from the likes of William Carlos Williams, Don DeLillo, and Stephen King, in the elegant 721-page hardcover volume, Baseball: A Literary Anthology. It can be found in The Greatest Baseball Stories Ever Told: Thirty Unforgettable Tales from the Diamond (paperback), edited by Jeff Silverman, where it hides amongst 30 fiction and nonfiction pieces from a motley crew of writers such as Doris Kearns Godwin, Pete Hamill, Ring Lardner, P.G. Wodehouse, Vin Scully (on Sandy Koufax), and Abbott and Costello (whose "Who's on First" comic routine is gloriously reprinted in its entirety). The essay joins a broader array of sports pieces recently assembled in The Only Game in Town: Sportswriting from The New Yorker (Modern Library Paperbacks) where Updike shares space with Malcolm Gladwell (who writes about failure in sports), Martin Amis (on tennis personalities), and John McPhee (on Bill Bradley's basketball career). And for those of you with deeper pockets, book dealers offer collectible copies (at $500 or more) from an edition limited to 300 copies signed by the author in 1977; link here: Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.
The answer to why you might choose to buy the Library of America's slim volume of John Updike on Ted Williams comes down to personal preference, convenience, sentimentality, maybe even aesthetics. The essay is special because it succeeds on so many levels. Its pages offer a sharp character study. It lyrically captures a moment of grace. It imparts an essential moral lesson. To use the hackneyed metaphor, it is a small gem. Think of Duke Ellington's description of Ella Fitzgerald: "beyond category." The quality-conscious publishers at The Library of America respect good writing and have taken care to design the book, simply as a physical object, to be a pleasing product to hold in your hands.
Three photos of Ted Williams grace the book: one is in color on the jacket (you see it pictured here on Amazon, above). The second, in black and white, is used as the frontispiece and shows the slugger ascending to the Fenway field on his final day. The third photo is near-sepia in color and is spread horizontally across the front and back boards, freezing in time his celebrated swing -- and making this hardback look just as fine with or without its jacket. Inside, the main essay from 1960 (with a dozen fact-laden footnotes Updike added a few years later) is, of course, the big draw. This text (33 pages in this wide-margined edition) is flanked by a three-page Preface, written only weeks before Updike died in 2009, and a meandering nine-page Afterword that served as an obituary for the ballplayer who died in 2002. The preface and afterward may strike you as workmanlike exercises -- common stones wildly outshone by the diamond at the center of the book.
Bottom line: if you're looking for a gift for someone open to the call of baseball and its emotional and intellectual appeal, this is a good choice. The book would also be a classy gift for a reader who's read Updike's novels and short stories but is unaware that the author penned, at the start of his career, one of the best nonfiction essays ever written.
While you are considering your options, check out the 35-second video of Ted Williams' last at bat at Fenway Park on September 28, 1960 which is available for viewing online (Google the words, YouTube Williams last time at bat). If you watch the video, pay close attention as Williams rounds third and heads for home. At that moment the cameraman pans up to show the crowd in the stands behind third base, the very section where John Updike was on his feet joining in the "beseeching screaming" that rocked the stadium. The video is too fuzzy for you to spot him. But Updike's there, absorbing the moment -- and starting work on his own piece for the ages.
Updike's reporting on Williams and his love-hate relationship with Boston, its sportswriters and Red Sox fans is a classic.
Even better, this edition also includes some nifty footnotes by the late Updike, written only months before his death last year, as well as excerpts from an article Updike wrote on Williams for Sport Magazine in 1986 and the obituary Updike wrote for the New York Times Magazine, marking Williams' death in 2002.
Updike's writing on Williams is a treasure trove for baseball fans that could be reasonably described as a holy grail on one of the greatest baseball players of all time. This is a book that should sit on every fan's bedside table to be read and reread even as baseball battles its drug addictions and overpays its current stars. It restores one's faith in the national past-time. Williams was, quite simply a classic. As is this book.
The book and memoir specifically is a personal account on the part of Updike’s love of the game that began as it does with many, as a child that continued well into adulthood. This shows within the opening passages of the book that is touching and succinct with only 47 pages of reflections and reminisces, especially, Updike recollects that moment in September when Williams walks on the field and the reaction that he observes from fans sitting right next to him of young and older fans from all walks of society and play by play of the game; this is displayed in the last ten pages of the book. Although the account is meant to be a detailed account, footnotes are also included to reprint an interesting biographical byline of the man and baseball player that began his careers at a young age of 18 years old and decided to call it a day by 42 years old.
For readers that have touched upon so-called baseball literature by writers such as Bernard Malamud and his book The Natural or the legendary poem by Ernest Thayer “Casey at the Bat: The Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888,” this story may also be placed slightly in the category. Much similar to writers that interweave their love for music or art, this is an interesting story that laments of the young at heart moments of adolescence that never grow old in adulthood, especially for the game of baseball.