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Austrian Physician Reports on Batting/Fielding Game in Prague; One of Two Accounts Cites Plugging, Bases

Salience Noteworthy
City/State/Country: Prague, Czech Republic
Game Unnamed Games - Czech
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Unknown

[A]  H. Guarinoni describes a game he saw in Prague in 1600 involving a large field of play, the hitting of a small thrown ball ["the size of a quince"] with a four-foot tapered club, the changing of sides if a hit ball was caught.   While not mentioning the presence of bases or of base-running, he advises that the game "is good for tender youth which never has enough of running back and forth."

[B] "German Schlagball ["hit the ball"] is also similar to rounders. The native claim that these games 'have remained the games of the Germanic peoples, and have won no popularity beyond their countries' quite obviously does not accord with facts. It is enough to quote the conclusion of a description of "hit the ball" by H. Guarnoni, who had a medical practice in Innsbruck about 1600: 'We enjoyed this game in Prague very much and played it a lot. The cleverest at it were the Poles and the Silesians, so the game obviously comes from there.' Incidentally, he was one of the first who described the way in which the game was played. It was played with a leather ball and a club four-foot long. The ball was tossed by a bowler who threw it to the striker, who struck it with a club rounded at the end as far into the field as possible, and attempted to make a circuit of the bases without being hit by the ball. If 'one of the opposing players catches the ball in the air, a change of positions follows.'"



[A] Guarinoni, Hippolytis, Greuel der Verwustung der menschlichen Gesschlechts [The horrors of the devastation of the human race], [Ingolstadt, Austrian Empire, 1610], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 167-168.  See also pp. 100-102 for Block's summary of, and a translation of the Guarinoni material.

[B] Source: 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."

This unidentified source may be W. Andrei and L. Zolnay, Fun and Games in Old Europe [English translation from Hungarian] (Budapest, 1986), pp. 110-111, as cited in Block, fn 16, page 304. 

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What is the basis of the Andrei/Zolnay report of a circuit of bases in the Czech game?

Does Mehl's discussion of the Czech game add anything?

Can we verify the Gyula Hajdu source? Is it Magyar Nepraiz V. Folklor?  Does Hungarian rounders Belong in this entry?  If not, how do we date it?

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