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Game Balslaen
Game Family Hook-em-snivy Hook-em-snivy
Regions Europe, US
Eras Predecessor, Pre-1700
Invented No

As depicted in Protoball Chronology entry 1660c.3balslaen was prohibited on the Sabbeth in New Netherland (now New York City) in the 17th century.  The source is a 2009 book's translation from a Dutch ordinance of the 1600s.  The translator mentions that while "balslaen" has been [where?] translated as "cricket," it "simply means 'hitting the ball.'

With the generous help of Pamela Bakker, we find that "balslaen" can be taken as a description of games like hand-ball, or a team game like volleyball in which players propel a ball with their hands.  The game described in Item 1660c.3 appears to be the game of Kaatsen -- Pamela's summary:

"Kaatsen/Ketsen, Caetsen, Caatsen

"Kaatsen is a Dutch-Flemish form of handball which is largely played in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, and in about 50 other countries. The game is mentioned in the 1600’s in records of New Netherlands (New York) with prohibitions against playing the game on the Sabbath. It is related to American handball and tennis with the first team to score 6 games winning the match. The game is played on a rectangular field which measures about 61 meters by 32 meters. Two teams of three players each operate on opposing sides. One side is the serving side (A) and one the receiving side (B).

"The center of the shorter field line, a 5 meter by 19 meter zone, is the receiving area which has two players positioned there to defend it with the third player in the field out front. The serving opponent (A) serves the hard leather ball with their bare hand from a serving box which is about 30 meters from the receiving zone. If it reaches the opponent’s receiving zone (B), they receive a point.
The receiving team (B) wears a single hard leather glove. They return the ball and if it reaches over a short line behind the serving box (called a boppe), they receive a point. The place where the ball lands is marked by a kaats, or woodblock. It is an undecided score. When two undecided points are reached or if one team is on game point, the teams change places.

"The team on the receiving position now tries to hit the ball past the first kaats which landed and if another rally takes place, they try to hit the ball past the second kaats and then add in the points if successful.
Belgium has a similar game called jeu de balle-pelote which uses five on a team. The field has a trapezoid shape. Balslaen, "hitting the ball," appears to be a general Dutch term for handball."




See 1660c.3.

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