The Tissue Thin Difference
Happy trails to John Updike, the novelist and essayist who died of cancer today. I was supposed to read several of his short stories through the course of my undergraduate career in English, I’d imagine, but I’ll always remember him for his essay, “Hub Fan Bids Kid Adieu,” which is probably up there with H.G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights as the best sports nonfiction writing ever.
In that New Yorker essay, Updike recalls a trip to Fenway Park in late September, 1960 to see Ted Williams’s last game. The Red Sox had long since fallen out of contention for the pennant, and so the game was meaningless. Yet Williams famously hit a home run on his final at bat ever, thus exemplifying the tissue thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.
Until the Red Sox won the title in 2004, the essay was probably the proudest moment of the franchise. R.I.P Mr. Updike, Red Sox fans will remember you fondly.
Note: The picture you see is the “Ted Williams Seat.” On June 9, 1946, Ted Williams hit a 502-foot home run that landed in Fenway Park’s right field stands (Section 42 Row 37 Seat 21), the longest home run ever hit in Fenway.