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Bidding John Updike (and Teddy Ballgame) adieu ...

I got a phone call the other day from a man who said he had worked with Ted Williams more than 50 years ago when Ted has his own fishing tackle company, still several years before he sold it to Sears-Roebuck in 1962.


This call came at the same time as the national news reporting of the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike, whose essay in the New Yorker in October of 1960 chronicled Ted’s poetic ending to his career with a home run in his final at bat.

The man with the fishing film from 1958, reportedly two 16mm films, including a portion of one section narrated by Red Barber, was interested in finding out if anybody was interested in buying them, and I wasn’t sure what to recommend. The films had been used at personal appearances by The Thumper, and the man thought that the two reels were one-of-a-kind pieces.


Best thing I could think to do was to put it in my blog and see if it attracted attention from some direction. Done.

The passing of Updike made me think of that New Yorker essay, which probably marks me as a philistine when it comes to literature, but so be it. I remain a big Ted Williams fan and still am deeply saddened that the goofy way his remains were handled (ie. frozen) after his death in 2002 has done a great disservice to his exalted memory.

But then there’s the Updike piece to ease the pain a bit:

“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 never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters.”

The wonderful baseball-almanace website has the whole essay posted:
Click here:

There are a host of reasons why I like blogging about Ted, but one of the best is that it gives me the opportunity to show some of Keith Conforti’s amazing Ted cards “That Never Were.” Teddy was an MIA from several classic Topps sets, but his fans have filled those holes nicely over the years, often with ersatz pasteboards that wound up being better than a lot of originals.

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