Meta, or Longa Meta

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Game Meta, or Longa Meta
Game Family Baseball Baseball
Location Hungary
Regions Europe
Eras Predecessor, 1800s
Invented No

Incompletely verified accounts suggest that Meta, sometimes called Longa Meta, is a traditional Hungarian folk game that involves base-running.

As of Fall 2015, we are actively seeking further information about this game and how it was played.

A few scattered accounts in English describe the game (see our reading notes in the Supplemental Text below). Hungarian sources are largely unexamined as yet.

Some impressions that emerge at this stage:

[] Generally, the game resembled English rounders, German schlagball, and early forms of base ball in the US: scoring was done by running to one or more distant bases and returning safely to the batting area; some form of bat was used to put the ball in play after it had been served to the batter, and then hit away; runners could be put out if they were caught off base;

[] The playing field was a rectangular area (defining fair ground for hits, apparently) whose dimensions could vary with the number of players;

[] The batting team and the fielding team exchanged sides after their side was put out, or at the end of an allotted time period.

[] The game is thought to have subsided in the 20th Century, but attempts to re-create it have been noted in the past few years.  There are undocumented assertions that the game dates back to the 1500s.

 "Longa Meta" is said to be a Latin phrase, not a Hungarian term.

History: Writing in 1988 about Budapest in 1900, John Lukacs wrote, "there was nothing in the way of organized athletics or sports in the schools.  An old Hungarian game of longa meta (the name came from Latin), a game similar to stickball or even baseball, was still played by children in empty lots of the city.  By 1900 it was replaced by soccer."





Our 6 most substantial leads are these:

[1] Gyula Hajdu, Magyar Nepi Jatekok Gyuj Temenye (Collection of Hungarian Folk Games), (Budapest, 1971), pages 149-152.  A compilation of baserunning games (and their names) in about 60 locations within current Hungarian borders, with brief notes on some variations see.  Untranslated by Protoball as of September 2015. (Supplied by Hannah Foster, Budapest, email of August 13, 2015.  She also reports on meta as described in Lajos Porsoit's writing.

[2] "A Guide to Tradicional Ball Games: A Guide to Ball Games in VG Countries", at  [A " guide to the games we learnt in Zakrzow. Every game was written in english, czech, polish."  The three games included are Hungarian "meto", Kwadrant in Poland, and End Ball in the Czech republic.  No author or date is given]  

[3] John Lukacs, Budapest 1900:  A Historical Portrait of the City and Its Culture (Grove Press, New York, 1988), page 83.

[4] Acta Ethnologica Danubiana 2008-2009, (website accessed August 2015), page 192 (in Hungarian or Czech -- untranslated by Protoball as of September 2015)

[5]  (German; machine-translated to English) 

[6] Lajos Porzsolt, A Magyar Labdajatekok Konyve (The Book of Hungarian Ballgames), Budapest, 1885.  See


Our reading notes on these sources are supplied as Supplemental text, below.


It seems possible, but not particularly likely, that Longa Meta is a very early form of baserunning game, especially if the Hungarians originally adopted it from Latin-speaking neighbors.  Protoball welcomes your help in evaluating Longa Meta.

Note: As of February 2018, we do not find YouTube videos about longa meta.


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Supplemental Text

Source 1, above [Gyula Hajdu):  The playing field is described as 40-50 meters by 20-25 meters; teams are 8 to 15 players;  Each half is about 20 minutes long; A home-made wooden racket (paddle?) is the bat, but an alternative is for hitters to "post" the ball to put it in play, as one sees in modern volleyball; Pitching is underhand; a batter is retired for the inning if he/she can't deliver a fair hit in three tries; The ball is slightly larger than a tennis ball; 8 to 10 hula hoops serve as the bases, and any runner who does not have one foot inside the hoop when the ball is returned to the pitcher is put out; Runners score one point upon returning home, but home runs count 2 points for the hitter.

Source 2 [online guide to traditional games]: "there was nothing in the way of organized athletics or sports in the schools.  An old Hungarian game of longa meta (the name came from Latin), a game similar to stickball or even baseball, was still played by children in empty lots of the city.  By 1900 it was replaced by soccer."

Source 4:  Not translated yet.

Source 5:  The bat is 60 cm long, and flattened at the end; the field is 20 meters wide and up to 80 meters long; the fielding team may be allowed to retire runners by throwing at them; there are three designated "hunters" on the fielding side, and their team-mates must throw to the hunters who then can put the runners out; it is not clear if running is compulsory on hit balls.

Source 6: Not translated.  This 1885 text appears to be a catalog of 110 Hungarian ballgames.  Nine of them carry the word "meta" in the reported name of the game.  See

Other Shreds:

In August 2007 the Fekete Sereg Youth Association arranged a throwback game of the "traditional game of meta." The rules used are not given.

Longa meta is mentioned as a game for schoolboys on page 10 of Be Faithful Unto Death, by Zsigmond Moriczv, (1995) edition.  The game is not described.

The New Hungarian Quarterly in 1967, according to a snippet view found in August 2015, includes the sentence "What games of Hungarian longameta there had been!" relating to student days near the border of Transylvania.

From page 111 of an unidentified photocopy in the "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center of the Baseball Hall of Fame, accessed in 2008. The quoted material is found in a section titled "Rounders and Other Ball Games with Sticks and Bats," pp. 110-111. This section also reports: "Gyula Hajdu sees the origin of round games as follows: 'Round games conserve the memory of ancient castle warfare. A member of the besieged garrison sets out for help, slipping through the camp of the enemy. . . . '" "In Hungary several variants of rounders exist in the countryside."

On Hungarian rounders: This game resembles contemporary British rounders. The bases form a regular pentagon, a pitcher stands at its center, fly balls are outs, and there is plugging. A baserunner, however, could make plays on subsequent batter-runners as a member of the fielding team.  -- Taken from Gyula Hajdu, "Collection of Hungarian Folk Games" (as Translated from Hungarian Magyar Nepi Jatekok Gyujtemenye) (Budapest: 1971), page 173.