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Friday, July 05, 2002
Tonight, to remember Ted Williams, the famed Boston Red Sox hitter who died today, I reread "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu".
This is a famous 1960 article about the great hitter written by John Updike for The New Yorker. It recounts Teddy Ballgame's history (in footnotes), and his famous last at-bat. I had actually underlined and made marks next to sentences, so wonderful is the writing. Its famous first sentence: "Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark."
Of course, I never saw Ted Williams play. But I have gone to Fenway Park, and pondered his retired number 9, and I have driven through the tunnel that bears his name. When I was learning Red Sox lore, Ted Williams towered in my studies.
The Updike article is a glorious fan's perspective on the self-described Kid at his final scene. In the days before ESPN and 7-by-24 baseball coverage, Updike, as a youngster, followed Ted Williams through box scores: "He radiated, from afar, the blue glow of high purpose." When Updike visited Fenway on that blustery September day in 1960, Williams was the old man (42) among young talent. Updike describes the crowd (10,454), the game (a come-from-behind Red Sox victory, 5-4, over the Orioles), and his at-bat: "The crowd grunted, seeing that classic swing, so long and smooth and quick, exposed." Williams stroked a home run ("there it was"), and was gone after running the bases.
As his obituary streams across America tonight, it will be noted that he was noncommital to his fans; that even after this final home run in his final home at-bat (he would quit before the last away games with the Yankees), he didn't come out to tip his cap. "Gods do not answer letters." But Updike writes movingly that Ted Williams addressed the crowd before the game began, and said "I want to say that my years in Boston have been the greatest thing in my life."
He is the last man to hit above .400 (he hit .406, going 6-for-8 in the final double-header of the season). He did this in 1941, the same year that Joe DiMaggio hit safely in 56 straight games. These are immortal records.
Today, Ted Williams died. It's now time for us to tip our caps to him.
Thursday, July 04, 2002
I wasn't born in America. But I'm an American citizen.
I have this memory of me in the 5th or 6th grade, and Mom announcing to me and my brothers that we were citizens of this country now. Having already lived here since I was three years old, I was somewhat surprised. Weren't we always citizens? But on that day, we were official.
Mom showed me the certificate of citizenship, and then said she would be keeping this for us. Now, many years later, this all important document (dated December 14, 1978) is locked away in a safety deposit box. I remember mailing this certificate to customs in order to get a passport, and I felt uneasy not having it around until it was returned to me.
Since I was born outside of the country, I can't become president. That's OK by me though. There are plenty of other great things about living in America than having the opportunity to become its president.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002
For the past three days, Boston has been in the throes of 90 degree weather (Farenheit). It's 78 degrees now in the late evening as I write this.
In my town's mailing list, a few of the subscribers have posted reflections and thoughts about the high heat. A few of mine:
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
I receive a good amount of spam e-mail. Of all the spam I receive, I am most intrigued by the Nigerian Scam.
The e-mails are often serious in tone. They contain a sincere-sounding request for your help transferring millions of U.S. Dollars from Nigeria to a U.S. bank. A very generous fee will be provided for your help.
Of course, it's too good to be true. The 419 Coalition was set up to fight this fraud. People who are lured into the trap of these scams (not just through e-mails, but through letters and faxes) often find that their bank accounts are swept clean by "advanced fees."
Incredible as it sounds, this is the third to fifth largest industry in Nigeria, and most of the letters and e-mails do originate from there. What's amazing is that people still feel bound to "inquire" about this fee. I get these e-mails about once a month. I sometimes let myself ponder what would happen if this were legitimate: if someone really did my help in moving a large sum of money to a U.S. bank. But it's too good to be true.