Classic Updike

The death of the literary legend prompts a look back

John Updike, that prolific chronicler of upper middle-class America at its 20th-century zenith, died today of lung cancer at age 76. He’ll be remembered mostly for his Rabbit tetralogy, two of which won the Pulitzer Prize. But the acclaimed novelist was also a short story writer, art critic, literary critic—and a man who knew his baseball. Consider this 1960 gem from the New Yorker’s archives in which Updike takes in Ted Williams’ last home game, crunches all Williams career numbers in a statistical dazzle worthy of Bill James, and nicely captures the Boston Red Sox star’s icy soul: “a humanist, and a selective one at that.”

The New Yorker