Saturday, June 06, 2009

The wisdom of baseball: players who always care

Success in life has been described as the maintained ecstasy of burning with a hard, gemlike flame. the image recurs. In his famous essay on Ted Williams' final game, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," John Updike wrote of Williams radiating "the hard blue glow of high purpose." Updike said, "For me, Williams is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill." Baseball, played on a field thinly populated with men rhythmically shifting from languor to tension, is, to Upkide's eyes, an essentially lonely game. The cool mathematics of individual performances are the pigments coloring the long season of averaging out. Baseball heroism comes not from flashes of brilliance but rather, Updike says, from "the players who always care," about themselves and their craft.

George Will
Men at Work, page 5

1 comment:

Dean Smith said...

This reminds me of the ironic response of Carl Yastrzemski, Williams replacement in left field, reflecting on his own passion for the game of baseball. "I loved the game. I loved the competition. But I never had any fun. I never enjoyed it. All hard work all the time."