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Hartselle Enquirer

Sunday pasture ball

The range of fun-time activities us country boys and girls were allowed to enjoy on Sunday afternoons a half century ago was limited to say the least.

Of course, church attendance took top priority–Sunday school and preaching mornings and Training Union and preaching evenings. The only way we could miss was to be sick and throwing up or running a fever. Even then, there was no room for fun because we were restricted to the house and yard.

What were left to our discretion were the afternoon hours, subject to certain conditions. We were not allowed to go fishing, swimming, camping or hunting

Playing pasture ball was something we were allowed to do and something that added a lot of enjoyment to a day away from working in fields.

The essentials of the game were a homemade ball and bat. The ball was made by taking a hard round object and wrapping it tightly with guano sack string until it reached a size equivalent to a store-bought baseball. A needle and thread were used to stitch the outer layer of string together to prevent it from unraveling when hit.

A limb from a hardwood tree was cut and trimmed down to make a bat. In an emergency, we’d borrow the stick our mother used to stir clothes as they were being washed in an iron wash pot.

The word of an afternoon pasture game at our farm was circulated during Sunday school and usually 15 to 18 kids of all ages and sizes would show up to play.

To prepare for the game, a flat area roughly the size of a softball field was marked off, designating foul lines and base paths. Next, the livestock was moved to a different location in the pasture and the field was cleared of any objects that could affect the flow of the game.

Captains were selected and they took turns choosing players until each team had an equal number of players. A player was chosen from each team to keep score. Runs were designated by rocks, which were placed in a straight line behind home plate.

The absence of a rules book and umpire led to a disputed call from time to time and players were known to quit the game early in a huff and go home. Nevertheless, a two-hour game of pasture ball was a fun-filled way to spend a Sunday afternoon when the options included playing checkers in the house or playing hopscotch with you siblings in the front yard.

Clif Knight is a staff writer emeritus for the Hartselle Enquirer.

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