Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/673

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A LITTLE BOYS' GAME WITH A BALL.

done by a single player. In a three-handed game the work is further divided, there being now a batter, a pitcher, and a catcher. This we used to call "one old cat" The three players occupied the same positions now held by the same three players in the great American game.

Bases were now introduced. When the batter had struck the ball three times, he must run to the pitcher's base before the ball was thrown across his path in front of him. Otherwise he was out, and the player who "crossed him out" got his bat. There were, therefore, three ways of securing his bat: by catching the ball when he had struck it, by catching it when. he had struck at it, and by crossing out when he ran bases. And there were two players at work trying to accomplish the object. The batter's life was rendered far less easy by these new features. Of course, every time the batter ran, the pitcher and catcher, instead of changing places, changed occupations.

If another batter was added, the two occupations of pitcher and catcher merged back into one. This was "two old cat." Its rules were usually the same as in the preceding game; but sometimes, instead of "every fellow for himself," it was "one out, all out." It was then a game of partners, like whist.

There was also "three cat," or "three-cornered cat," and even "four cat." The rules were the same.

One important difference between the batting and the hitting games was that, in the former, the complexity of the game increased with the number of players, while, in the latter, the simplest games were those in which the whole school could join. Up to eight players, the simple "old cat" games were the commonest. With more players than eight we usually played "town-ball." It was plainly evolved out of the cat games, for it retained all their rules. And it forms a connecting link between them and base-ball. But it resembles "one cat" more than any of the other forms of cat-ball. It might be called a lateral branch of the cat family, just as the lion and the tiger are related to the common cat. In ball-games the cat family had two principal lines of evolution. Along one line it bloomed into two, three, and four cat, and along the other line into town-ball, the professional base-ball, and one or two other allied forms.

Along the first line there was a mere cumulation of cats. All that is implied by this expression is that there was a multiplication of batting bases. After "one cat" there was just one batter and one catcher to each batting base.

In the other line we revert to the single batting base, regardless of the number of players. Even in "one cat" there were two, which were used alternately by the batter. His run was from one batting base to the other. Every time he ran, his former pitcher