John Updike, Ted Williams and me

John Updike, who has passed at 76 into the big library in the sky, could write. He wrote his way right out of Berks County and all the way to two Pulitzer Prizes for fiction. He wrote more than 50 books, 20 or so of them novels. He wrote enough short stories to wallpaper a mansion. He penned art criticisms and essays. He wrote poetry. He undoubtedly wrote on napkins.
But I wasn’t a fan. Updike always overwrote. I know I do, too, and I can’t even carry Updike’s typewriter ribbon. Nevertheless, his prose has too much opulence for my simple tastes. His soaring phrases too often segue into a slobbering state and wind up having all the relevance of sculling.
However, I loved it that Updike was a baseball fan. As a former sports columnist, I do commend him for the large piece he wrote on Ted Williams way back in 1960 for the New Yorker.
As someone whose longest column ever was on Williams when he visited Reading to speak at a testimonial for former Boston Red Sox roomie Broadway Charlie Wagner, Updike’s connection to the Splendid Splinter does give me some sort of affinity for Updike.
Which just goes to show you that sports is the universal language for writers of all skill sets.