Aleut Baseball

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Game Aleut Baseball
Game Family Baseball Baseball
Location Alaska
Regions US
Eras 1800s, Contemporary, Derivative
Invented No

Aleut Baseball, called a "Sugpiat novelty," has been played on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.  The Sugpiat are a Native population.

Although called baseball, its rules resemble the Russian game lapta, and players point out that the game differs from modern baseball in having only two safe-haven bases, retiring runners by throwing at them, and lacking a strike-out rule.  The area was once a Russian colony, and hundreds of residents are reportedly of Russian descent.  An airplane landing strip was the site of a game observed in 2007 and described in 2010.  The game is associated locally with Easter Sunday, with some games played in the dawn light after Easter services.

Attributes of Aleut baseball include:

[] there are no umpires

[] two large safe zones for runners at the ends of the field 

[] two "home" areas for batting near the ends of the field

[] sides take turns batting

[] runners score one points when reaching an opposing base, and another for a safe return.

[] multiple baserunners after any  hit ball

[] caught flies put the side out.

[] soft tosses to batters

[] baserunners can pick up balls thrown at them and try to plug members of the fielding side

[] games can last several hours.  Some games end when one side passes an agreed number of points (runs).


 Note: Schoolchildren play a form of kickball resembling American baseball, using kicked rubber balls in place of batted tennis-style balls.




M. DeHass and A. Droulias, "Aleut Baseball:  Cultural Creation and Innovation Through a Sporting Event," Études/Inuit/Studies 342 (2010), pp. 21–37.


See also Supplementary Text, below.

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Can we discover the geographic range of play of this game?  Do local variations exist in Alaska?

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<comments voting="Plus" />

(from a cited 2001 source) "Easter Sunday, they'd start playing ball.  They called it 'Miatzic.'  It's a one- base game, like baseball, only you run one way and then back.  There  were two sides . . . . The ones that batted the most would 'win.'"

"The word miatzic, from the Russian word for ball, is a clear connection to the Russian colonial era . . . ."

"Aleut baseball is a favourite pastime of the Sugpiat of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.  While the rules vary from community to community, all players and spectators agree that it is quite different from American baseball."

The game lacked multiple bases, the strikeout, and had no tagging. 

The game "resembles lapta, which goes back to 14th century Russia" (citing Schreck 2003).  "There is evidence that lapta was introduced to the Sugpiat in he 18th century during Russian colonization."

A 2007 Aleut baseball tournament is described between Nanwalek and Port Graham (to a score of 60).  The game is generally associated with Easter Sunday.  The game is described as less popular in 2010 than it was in the 1970s and 1980s.  A local airfield is said to be a favored playing location.  It usually has no umpires or referees.  A member of the defending team throws (serves) the ball to a batter.  When a ball is hit, members of he "scoring team" run to the far end of the field, and can be put out if hit (plugged) but the ball.