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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Rounders


Round-about Baseball

By Richard Carreño
Junto Staff Writer
'The editors of the Cambridge Northanger Abbey, Barbara M. Benedict and Deirdre Le Faye, believe that [its author Jane] Austen means the game of ... rounders, in which a batsman hits the ball as far as possible and attempts to run around a circular course before the fielder can retrieve the ball and throw it back.' -- The Times Literary Supplement

Sounds alot like baseball. In 1818?

Growing up in the late 1950s in Brooklyn, still then the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who knew? In fact, even baseball -- despite Ebbets Field -- was an abstraction. On 22nd Street, between Newkirk and Foster, in Flatbush, our ballgames were alot more down and dirty -- stoopball on Jackie Ostrow's stoop, punchball in a alley near Buster Krowberger's apartment house, and stickball in the street. Dogding Dodges zooming down between our runs.

Rounders?

'Baseball was developed from a game called rounders. Rounders was played in England in the 1600s.... English immigrants brought the game to America in the 1700s,' writes Kay Livorse.

To America. Not Brooklyn. We didn't have Fives, either.

But I was about to learn fast.

Just about the time that the Dodgers slithered out of town for LA, my Dad announced to the family (remember, this was 22nd Street, Brooklyn): 'We're moving to Nassau, The Bahamas. Pack your bags.'

OK. Like the Bronx, only hot. I was 11.

Not quite. We took a plane. It had propellers. My dog, Zippy, was in the hold.

After enrolling (Third Form) in the St. Andrew's School, the headmaster, John Chapman, asked me (ex-PS 152) -- actually, it was a demand -- what sport I wanted to partake in. Sorry, mate, no punchball. No stoopball. No stickball. How about cricket? (The Bahamas was then still a colony of the UK). My response was like, 'Huh?'

OK, then, 'How about rounders? It's something like what you Yanks call baseball,' continued Chapman, who I later learned was known as 'The Bat' because he wore a black academic gown as daily wear. (He also pronounced food, 'fud.' He was Scotch).

The rounders club was captained by Stafford Morrison, the head of my House, The Caribs. 'Hey, mon,' Stafford told me on the first day I walked on to the pitch. 'Just hit the ball, and run like the devil's at your tail.'

Stafford became one of my best friends. Later in life, we hung out in London and Paris. He died three years ago. He had issues.

Thanks to Stafford -- we called him 'Staff-Mon' -- I learned the lessons of baseball, er rounders.

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