When unusually balmy weather occurs after a season of cold and snow, some of us cannot resist thinking about baseball. As I write, pitchers and catchers are packing up for their spring training—an event that for baseball fans is like the first Sunday in Advent for Christians. Like sap rising in the spring, hope again rises in our hearts.
Baseball inspires devotion and great writing. One of my favorite books on the subject is the collection Diamonds Are Forever: Artists and Writers on Baseball. Among other remarkable essays, it contains John Updike’s “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” about Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams’s last game. (In Updike’s title, which mimics the sports page headlines, “Hub” refers to Boston; “Kid” was Williams’s nickname.)