Friday, January 30, 2009

Water-cooler conversation

When I came into work on Wednesday, News columnist Jerry Sullivan was working on his column for Thursday, a tribute to writer John Updike. Since we were in the sports department, Sullivan was concentrating on Updike's famous story about Ted Williams' last game, and the Boston outfielder's home run in his last at-bat. It might be the most famous exit in baseball history, thanks in part to Updike's story.

Actually, Jerry didn't have to do that much. It was hard to improve on Updike's writing, which has been reproduced many, many times. So Jerry just got out of the way and quoted him a few times -- a very good move on his part.

Jerry and I talked about Updike for a minute and the Williams' game/story, when I said something that got Jerry's attention: "I was at that game."

Jerry's head snapped toward me. "You were?!" he said.

Indeed. I was not quite five years old when my family was living in the Boston area, and my mother decided to take my sister and me to Fenway Park for the game. Tickets were not a problem. Mom remembers that we sat down the third-base line.

I have absolutely no memory of being at the game. However, I'm told that just after Williams' last hit landed in the seats, the sudden burst of noise prompted me to cry like a, well, four-year-old.

Updike apparently also sat on the third base side. If you want a much better account of the game than mine, read his "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu."

One footnote: Ed Linn wrote a story for Sport magazine on the exact same subject. It's a much different account, with the prose much less lyrical and Williams shown to be typically crusty.

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