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Monday, November 01, 2021

Baseball as Fertility Rite?

Robert Henderson opened his classic Ball, Bat and Bishop with these words: “It is the purpose of this book to show that all modern games played with bat and ball descend from one common source: an ancient fertility rite observed by Priest–Kings in the Egypt of the Pyramids.” Moving forward some three millennia, he added:

The testimony of Beleth and Durandus [Jean Beleth and Guillaume Durand, French theologians], both eminently qualified witnesses, clearly indicates that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the ball had found a place for itself in the Easter celebrations of the Church. In fact, Beleth and Durandus had both opposed the practice, seeing it as the intrusion of pagan rites into church rites. “There are some Churches in which it is customary for the Bishops and Archbishops to play in the monasteries with those under them, even to stoop to the game of ball” [Beleth, 1165]. “In certain places in our country, prelates play games with their own clerics on Easter in the cloisters, or in the Episcopal Palaces, even so far as to descend to the game of ball” [Durandus, 1286].

What does this have to with bat and ball and the fertility rites of spring, you ask? Not to put too fine a point on it, but the bat and ball are symbolic male and female forms. Like the dance (ballet) and the ballad, the game of ball (all derived from ballare, the Greek for ball), was regarded as sublimated sex. The Oxford English Dictionary records usages of the word “game” to mean amorous sport or lechery as early as 1230. To illustrate a perhaps more familiar instance, Shakespeare wrote, in Troilus and Cressida in 1606, “Set them downe For sluttish spoyles of opportunitie; and daughters of the game.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 01, 2021 at 10:23 AM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fertility

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   1. Rally Posted: November 01, 2021 at 01:05 PM (#6050522)
Beleth and Durandus also complained about the lazy pitchers of their time. “While once they prided themselves on being able to pitch a complete month, today’s teams sometimes require 2 or even 3 pitchers just to finish a week of games”
   2. Obo Posted: November 01, 2021 at 02:07 PM (#6050536)
Geez, you'd hardly think it possible but some people must be completely unaware of the simple pleasure of clubbing the **** out of a projectile.

Though it is nice to see the fertility beat finally getting its due.
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 01, 2021 at 03:19 PM (#6050546)
Surely there must be data on the female response to the ballpark experience?
   4. Zach Posted: November 01, 2021 at 04:38 PM (#6050559)
Steve Garvey could not be reached for comment.
   5. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: November 01, 2021 at 05:07 PM (#6050567)
Some games you win, some games you lose, and some games are banged.
   6. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: November 01, 2021 at 05:59 PM (#6050575)
No MLB players were born on the same day I was. I think this is related.

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