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-2500.2 Tale of Game in Sumer, Possibly Using Ball and Mallet.
Gilgamesh was a celebrated Sumerian king who probably reigned 2800-2500 BCE. His legend appears in several later poems.
In one, he drops a mikku and a pukku, used in a ceremony or game, into the underworld.
One scholar, Andrew George, suggests that the objects were a ball and a mallet. George translates the game played as something like a polo game where humans are ridden instead of horses.
When the two objects are lost, Gilgamesh is said in this interpretation to weep;
'O my ball! O my mallet!
O my ball, which I have not enjoyed to the full!
O my mallet, with which I have not had my fill of play!'
The Epic of Gilgamesh, dated as early at 2100 BCE.
Mark Pestana, who tipped Protoball off on the Sumerian reference, suggest two texts for further insight:
 Damrosch, David, The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh (New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007). For specific reference to the ball & mallet, page 232. Damrosch’s comment on the primacy of Andrew George’s interpretation: “For Gilgamesh, the starting point is Andrew George’s The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation. . . "This is the best and most complete translation of the epic ever published, including newly discovered passages not included in any other translation.” (Damrosch, page 295)
 George, Andrew, The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation (London, England: Penguin Books, 1999). This book includes a complete translation of the Standard version, a generous helping of fragments of the Old Babylonian version, plus the Sumerian “ur-texts” of the individual Gilgamesh poems. The quote I included describing the ball game is to be found on page 183.
In the Supplemental Text, below, we provide an excerpt from a translation by Andrew George from his "Gilgamesh and the Netherworld."
Mark Pestana, who submitted this item to Protoball, observes, "Polo? Croquet? Golf? Rounders? I think it's interesting that the spot of the ball is marked at the end of the first day."
See Mark's full coverage in the Supplemental Text, below.
Have other scholars commented on Mr. George's ballplaying interpretation of the Gilgamesh epic?
1255.1 Spanish Drawing Seen as Early Depiction of Ballplaying
A thirteenth century Spanish drawing appears to depict a female figure swinging at a ball with a bat.
The book Spain: A History in Art by Bradley Smith (Doubleday, 1971) includes a plate that appears to show "several representations of baseball figures and some narrative." The work is dated to 1255, the period of King Alfonso.
The book Spain: A History in Art by Bradley Smith (Doubleday, 1971) includes a plate that appears to show "several representations of baseball figures and some narrative." The work is dated to 1255, the period of Spain's King Alfonso.
Email from Ron Gabriel, July 10, 2007. Ron also has supplied a quality color photocopy of this plate, which was the subject of his presentation at the 1974 SABR convention. 2007 Annotation: can we specify the painting and its creator? Can we learn how baseball historians and others interpret this artwork?
From Pam Bakker, email of 1/4/2022:
"Cantigas de Santa Maria,"or "Canticles (songs) of Holy Mary" by Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (1221-1284)
Ron Gabriel also has supplied a quality color photocopy of this plate, which was the subject of his presentation at the 1974 SABR convention
From Pam Bakker, email of 1/4/2022:
"Cantigas de Santa Maria" (written in Galician-Portuguese) or "Canticles (songs) of Holy Mary" by Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (1221-1284) is a collection of 420 poems with musical notation in chant-style, used by troubadours. It has fanciful extra biblical stories of miracles performed by Mary and hymns of veneration. She is often presented doing ordinary things, intended to elevate her while showing her engaged in life. It was very popular in the early Christian world. The book has illustrations, one of which appears to portray a woman swinging at a ball with a bat."
Can we further specify the drawing and its creator?
Can we learn how baseball historians and others interpret this artwork?
Do we know why this drawing is dated to 1255?
1565.1 Bruegel's "Corn Harvest" Painting Shows Meadow Ballgame
Bruegel the Elder
"We had paused right in front of [the Flemish artist] Bruegel the Elder's "Corn Harvest" (1565), one of the world's great paintings of everyday life . . . .[M]y eye fell upon a tiny tableau at the left-center of the painting in which young men appeared to be playing a game of bat and ball in a meadow distant from the scything and stacking and dining and drinking that made up the foreground. . . . There appeared to be a man with a bat, a fielder at a base, a runner, and spectators as well as participants in waiting. The strange device opposite the batsman's position might have been a catapult. As I was later to learn with hurried research, this detain is unnoted in the art-history studies."
From John Thorn, "Play's the Thing," Woodstock Times, December 28, 2006. See thornpricks.blogspot.com/2006/12/bruegel-and-me_27.html, accessed 1/30/07.
1732.1 "Struck a Ball Over the (163-foot) Weather-cock" in New York
"The same Day a Gentleman in this City, for a Wager of 10l [ten pounds] struck a Ball over the Weather-Cock of the English Church, which is above 163 Feet high. He had half a Day allow'd him to perform it in, but he did it in less than half the Time."
American Weekly Mercury, Philadelphia, July 6, 1732, page 3, column 2;
from a series of paragraphs/sentences datelined *New-York, July 3. The preceding paragraph had begun "On Friday last."
Protoball doesn't know of other early references to pop-fly hitting.
Is it fair to assume that the gentleman used a bat to propel the ball?
Are such feats known in England?
Is a 160-foot weather-vane plausible? That's well over 10 stories, no?