This is a game played by my informant in his childhood in the 1950s in Guadalupe, CA, inspired by baseball.
“We used to play this weird game where one guy would be a first baseman, and he’d stand on the sidewalk in front of our house. Down on kind of the far side, and then the other person would be on the front yard of the house next door, because there was no fence between the two. And then the guy who was the firstbaseman would throw a ground ball that was really hard to get and you would try to field it, and the firstbaseman would count to five. And if you got it back before the time he counted to five it was an out, and if you didn’t it was a hit. The assumption was you have to get the guy before he gets to first base, and he would get there in five seconds. Then friends would come over and visit, and they would play, and it just kind of spread. It’s a bit tough because you need two yards, and not everyone had access to that, so it was played most often at our house. Or you could just use a big yard but again most people didn’t have it, but yeah. I tried to teach it to Jacquelyn, but she didn’t like baseball.”
This game is a variation of baseball, in which the players don’t have access to a team or a bat with which to hit the ball. It kept the children playing with the ball and thinking about fielding, mimicking the fieldwork that perhaps one would use in a real game. Baseball was one of the main sports of choice in this town in my informant’s time, and thus it could fuel the children’s desires to play and keep them practicing early. It’s quite resourceful, and demonstrated the importance of the sport given how much of their leisure time they spent mimicking it.