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Glossary of Games
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Predecessor Games
Derivative Games
Glossary of Games, Full List

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Baseball · Kickball · Scrub · Fungo · Hat ball · Hook-em-snivy

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Game Fungo
Game Family Fungo Fungo
Regions US
Eras 1800s, Derivative, Post-1900
Invented No

Protoball's Glossary of Games includes many  nonrunning games in which the ball (or cat, or other object) is put in play by a batter who gently lofts a ball and bats, or "fungoes," it to other players.  Some better-known examples are Brannboll (Sweden),  Catch-a-Fly (Manhattan), Corkball (St. Louis), 500, Half-ball, Indian Ball (MO), Sky Ball (CT), and Tip-Cat.

Some early references:

Culin (1891): A batter fungoes balls to a set of fielders. A fielder who first catches a set number of balls on the fly becomes the batter.

Chadwick (1884) describes Fungo as requiring the hitter to deliver the ball on the fly to the fielders, or he loses his place. This practice probably has had numerous local variant names such as Knock Up and Catch and Knocking Flies.

It is common for those coaching baseball to give outfielders practice in judging and fielding fly balls by hitting balls toward them fungo-style.


Culin, S. (1891). "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn." Journal of American Folklore, volume 4, page 232; Our Game log, July 16, 2022

Henry Chadwick, Sports and Pastimes for American Boys (Routledge, New York, 1884), page 18.

F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 245.


In January 2017 Neil Seldman and Mark Schoenberg contributed this definition of a fungo bat (email of 1/25/2017:

Fungo bat
A fungo bat is a specially designed bat used by baseball and softball coaches for practice. The etymology of the word fungo (pronunciation: /ˈfʌŋɡoʊ/) is uncertain, but the Oxford English Dictionary suggests it is derived from the Scots fung: to pitch, toss, or fling.[23] A fungo is longer and lighter than a regulation bat, with a smaller diameter. The bat is designed to hit balls tossed up in the air by the batter, not pitched balls.[24] Typical fungo bats are 35 to 37 inches (89 to 94 cm) long and weigh 17 to 22 ounces (480 to 620 g). Coaches hit many balls during fielding practice, and the weight and length allow the coach to hit balls repeatedly with high accuracy. The small diameter also allows coaches to easily hit pop-ups to catchers and infielders along with ground balls due to better control of the barrel of the bat. [Source: Wikipedia, retrieved January 2017.]

Neil Seldman
President, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Note:  Protoball welcomes additional information on known local fungo games.



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